Arizona Musicfest: Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff

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When you hear the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff, it’s easy to understand why so many consider it to be a masterwork: it is virtuosic, it is emotional, and it has become an iconic part of the repertoire. Which is why – when you listen – you might have a hard time believing that it was produced by a composer who was dealing with low self-esteem and writer’s block.

Indeed, Rachmaninoff was prone to depressive episodes throughout his life, and one of his most intense stretches of depression was sparked by the premiere of his First Symphony in 1897. What’s worse, is the reason had nothing to do with Rachmaninoff or his music: the terrible performance was led by an allegedly drunk Alexander Glazunov. Nevertheless, what followed was a string of missed deadlines and general inactivity.

It wasn’t until 1900, when Rachmaninoff began daily sessions with hypnotherapist Dr. Nikolai Dahl, that things turned around. These therapy sessions combined sensitive discussion with hypnotic suggestion, and successfully pulled Rachmaninoff enough out of depression that he could complete his Piano Concerto No. 2. Rachmaninoff even acknowledged the impact of this therapy on the score of the piece, of which the dedication was to Dahl.

We will enjoy a performance of the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Rachmaninoff with pianist Inon Barnatan and the Arizona Musicfest Festival Orchestra, alongside Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, on this edition of Arizona Encore.

Stravinsky - The Firebird Suite (1919) - Arizona Musicfest Festival Orchestra; Robert Moody, conductor


Rachmaninoff - Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra - Arizona Musicfest Festival Orchestra; Robert Moody, conductor; Inon Barnatan, piano

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