DISC THREE: PIOTR ILICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–93) : The Sleeping Beauty (Suite) [arr. Sergei Rachmaninov], SERGEI BORTKIEWICZ (1877–1952) : Russian Melodies and Dances, Op.31, SERGEI RACHMANINOV (1873–1943) Six Morceaux, Op.11. Duo Modenese - Gesuato.
Catalogue Number: 03Y020
Label: Da Vinci Classics
Description: The Duo Modenese - Gesuato disc begins with the student Rachmaninov's pianistically breathtaking transcription of Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty. It is thought that Tchaikovsky himself commissioned the four-hand piano duet version of Sleeping Beauty from Rachmaninov, possibly at the prompting of the pianist Aleksandr Ziloti, the author of the solo piano version, who was a cousin of Rachmaninov and who had studied harmony at the Moscow Conservatory under Tchaikovsky’s guidance and who, at that time, was instrumental in establishing the young Rachmaninov’s career. Not only does Rachmaninov's transcription perfectly capture the essence of Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous score, but his treatment of harmony and piano textures is thoroughly accomplished, and, amusingly, foreshadows his own mature voice while remaining faithful to Tchaikovsky's idiom. A few years later, at the ripe old age of 21, Rachmaninov produced his own Op.11 Morceaux. These beautiful pieces are quintessentially Rachmaninov in every way; melodically exquisite, harmonically sumptuous, pianistically scintillating, and always tinged with melancholy. Bortkiewicz's tremendously appealing, sumptuously Romantic, harmonically ravishing suite of Russian Melodies and Dances op. 31 explores the Russia of folklore, of the Cossacks’ acrobatic dances and of the sad and meditative songs of popular tradition. The six pieces are characterized by slow, singing themes which are then varied through sudden changes of tempo and texture. The suite opens with an homage to Tchaikovsky, built on a folk theme excerpted from Tchaikovsky’s opera Oprichnik. Bortkiewicz transforms this initially gentle theme until it appears in full, grandiose imperial garb.