Rachmaninoff Didn’t Write Enough Music

for piano, that is, with or without orchestra.

If you think so, too, here are some other pieces you might find interesting. None (except possibly the Bortkiewicz Sonata) is of the caliber of the Master, but all are worth a hearing.

  1. Hamilton Harty, Piano Concerto [on Irish folk themes]. (Harty is best known for his arrangement of Handel’s Water Music.) The second movement of the concerto begins and ends with a wink at R’s typical four-note motif, and the second and third could have been written by R just emerging from the shadow of Tchaikovsky. Not a great piece of music, but it has some nice tunes, and the interplay of piano and orchestra is often quite adept.
  1. Pancho Vladigerov, Piano Concerto No. 1. If R had lived another ten or fifteen years, he might have written something like this (the first movement, anyway).
  1. Sergei Bortkiewicz, Ballade op. 42; Morceaux, op. 3; and Sonata in B [in three movements], op. 9. The Ballade and the first Morceau contain direct quotations from R, not just the melodies but the harmonies as well. This is the second disk of a two-disk set, the first disk being less interesting. The Sonata is a fine piece of music and would not be out of place in the standard repertoire.
  1. Rimsky-Korsakov, Piano Concerto. This piece predates Rachmaninoff, of course, but anticipates some aspects of R’s music. The second movement is especially appealing.
  1. And, do avoid the “Rachmaninoff Concerto Number 5,” adapted by Alexander Warenberg from R’s second symphony. This piece is a real mess, and could have been much better if Warenberg had just adapted the first, third, and fourth movements straight through, without attempting to rearrange the sequence of R’s music (the joints are showing), or add passages of his own composition (such as an out-of-place cadenza) which don’t sound like R and are uninteresting anyway.

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