sorabji.com: Obscure Classical Composers: Rachmaninoff

By Rhiannon on Wednesday, November 17, 1999 - 02:00 pm:

    Okay, so he's not obscure.

    But I'm listening to a 1929 recording of him conducting his "Isle of the Dead." This is some piece. I love the almost-major chords.

    After this comes his "Vocalise." Years ago, I was in the car listening to the one classical radio station in this area (which has now been replaced by a shite rock station) and there was a recording of a woman singing "Vocalise" and her voice actually, like, did the trills. I had never heard anyone do that before, and I have no idea who she was, and I have tried for years to find that recording with no luck. Blast.

By Gee on Thursday, November 18, 1999 - 07:39 am:

    Those composers had some weird names, eh?

By hydrozoa on Friday, November 19, 1999 - 02:09 am:

    yeah, those crazy russians with their weird names. the nerve.

By J on Friday, November 19, 1999 - 01:28 pm:

    hydrozoa,you have to tell us about your friend that fucked Martha Stewart.as much as I can,t stand her,I wish I would have bought stock in the bitch,it would have been a good thing.Don,t leave out one sordid detail!!!

By hydrozoa on Friday, November 19, 1999 - 10:18 pm:

    i don't know many details, just that an ex-coworker of my boyfriend's (they worked for an advertising company) was working on an account that somehow involved her, took a business trip to meet with "her people," and fell victim to her penchant for younger men. but i swear, this is true. i met the guy and heard him tell the the story, and he was telling the truth. besides, how could you make this stuff up? this guy is from some podunk town in colorado. you should have seen the look on hs face. i recall it quite clearly, along with the sentence, "i was knee-deep in martha's hoop!"

By Rhiannon on Friday, November 19, 1999 - 10:22 pm:

    Oh, gross! How did this smut get in my lovely Rachmaninoff thread? You people.....*sigh*

By hydrozoa on Friday, November 19, 1999 - 11:02 pm:

    we can talk rachmaninov.

    interstingly enough, rachmaninov and joplin were both noted for their ridiculously huge hands. rach had a 13-key span and it shows when you try to read his pieces. so, i can play part of one of his preludes and that's the end of my rach repertoire. it sucks. i'd love to play those rich chords of his.

    does anyone here play any rach pieces?

By Rhiannon on Friday, November 19, 1999 - 11:22 pm:

    I did once. I can't remember what it was though. I just remember sightreading it gave me a headache.

    You know who's easy to sightread? Mendelssohn. But he's so unsatisfying. His pieces are rather...trite or something. Maybe I'm not being fair, because my experience with him is limited to his Songs Without Words. And he can be pretty at times (I like #2 and #14), but he doesn't seem to have that spark that Chopin has, for example.

    I don't like sightreading Chopin.

    Satie is my favorite. He's just adorable. The strange directions he gives..."somewhat cooked" is one I remember. Awesome. And the little stories that go along with the pieces that the pianist is forbidden to divulge to the audience...how clever! Have you ever seen his handwritten scores? He used different colored inks for the different notes and calligraphy with the titles. His titles are neat too: "Genuine Flabby Preludes for a Dog," "Pieces in Pear Form," "Waltz of Chocolate and Almonds." I like too how he usually had no time signature or measures or dynamic or tempo directions...he just leaves it up to the pianist's discretion. How generous!

    He was a really talented composer too. I love his fifth Gnossiene, with all the silky ornaments...it's so bubbly and happy, like champagne. And what a sense of humor! The way the third part of "Embryons desseches" refuses to end and keeps repeating all those chords...that's funny! And "Le porteur de grosses pierres"...how it really sounds like someone stumbling around carrying a big rock that he drops at the end.

    Erik Satie....how I love thee!

By Janis Joplin on Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 01:50 am:

    Satie? Gymnopédies? Then I remember I may have heard that and really liked it and then found a Phillps CD of his early piano works somedamplace and bookmarked it and wonder now if it's worth the buy and would like to know if you think it might be?

By Rhiannon on Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 09:52 am:


    Do you know what other pieces are on the CD?

By hydrozoa on Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 04:57 pm:

    i've never ever heard of satie. i'll have to ask around at school about him.

    i like reading chopin, except when he writes in F# or Cb or some other key with stupid amounts of accidentals. but struggling through it is always rewarding. i've never heard a chopin piece that wasn't just... perfect. he's one of my favorite composers. tori amos is also fun to sight-read.

    i'm really bad at sight-reading.

By Janis Perfidy Joplin on Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 08:37 pm:


    3 Gymnopédies
    Gnossiènnes Nos. 1-6
    Petite ouverture à danser
    Prélude de la porte héroïque du ciel
    Danses gothiques
    Ogives I-IV
    3 Sarabandes
    Sonneries de la Rose et Croix
    Pièce froides
    4 Préludes


    For $15 what's the diff? I ordered it last night. I'll let you know what happens. I'm sure you can't wait. If you'd like I'll burn you a copy.

    Also, do you know about buying a piano? I assume Mark does but I wouldn't bother him with it. May be you or someone can help.

    $500 recently came my way which I will actually be able to hold on to and not have to pay bills with. What do I need with a motorcycle and a two year old baby at this stage of my life? The two just don't mix. A friend of mine who is an EMT says they call them donorcycles. I only rode it a few times anyway -

    I'm sure $500 will not buy much of a piano but it will be a start.

    Thanks - Mike

By Rhiannon on Sunday, November 21, 1999 - 01:05 am:

    Mike, I know zip about buying a piano.

    I do know about Satie, however.

    The "prélude de la porte héroïque du ciel" and the "Sonneries de la Rose et Croix" are very dissonant.

    If the "piece froides" include the (ooh, french name escapes me but in english:) "crooked dances," you're in for a treat. If they are the (in english) "Pieces to scare you away" you are also in for a treat, but not as big.

    Gymnopedie #3 is my favorite. I also like the Gnossienes.

    Tell me what you think of it when you get it.

By hydrozoa on Sunday, November 21, 1999 - 09:36 pm:

    i used to work at sherman clay pianos, and i'm a piano major at cornish. what do you need to know?

By cyst on Sunday, November 21, 1999 - 10:36 pm:

    do non-arty people outside seattle know what cornish is?

    I was just wondering. I'd never heard about it until I moved there.

By Mike on Monday, November 22, 1999 - 10:09 am:

    I found the Cornish school on the net so it's no longer your secret.

    Found a used Baldwin upright over the weekend for $900. Even I can hear it needs a tuning so it must really need a tuning. It appears to be mechanically sound - nothing broken inside - the keys are all in good shape - wish me luck!

By Patrick on Monday, November 22, 1999 - 06:11 pm:

    i want a old rhodes or worlitzer, they make an average self taught music schmuck like myself sound good

By hydrozoa on Tuesday, November 23, 1999 - 04:47 pm:

    no, no one's heard of it because cornish sucks. i'm going back to berklee next year.

    baldwins are nice, middle-of-the-road pianos. they're like fords. do you know how old yours is?

    i've got a behemoth--a 1924 p. s. wick cabinet grand. it weighs about a ton and it looks like hell, but i love the way it sounds.

By Pooper on Tuesday, October 8, 2002 - 02:15 pm:


By Dougie on Tuesday, October 8, 2002 - 03:18 pm:

    Isle of the Dead, good piece. My all-time fav Rachmaninoff is Symphonic Dances. Symphony #2 is cool, and of course, the piano concertos. Can't stop humming Vocal Ease now.

By Spider on Tuesday, October 8, 2002 - 03:26 pm:

    I suppose I should thank the anonymous poster for dredging this thread up. I'm going to listen to the Isle of the Dead when I go home.

    I don't think I'm familiar with the Symphonic Dances, or maybe I've never connected the title to the piece. Hmmmm...investigation is needed...

By Dougie on Wednesday, October 9, 2002 - 08:32 am:

    So Spider, did you do any investigation?

By Spider on Wednesday, October 9, 2002 - 09:04 am:

    Oops, I forgot. But my mom is coming down to visit me this weekend, and I'm sure she could hum them for me. ;) Even better, she might also have a recording of them.

By Spider on Monday, October 14, 2002 - 10:05 am:

    Dougie, I wanted to tell you that I'm listening to the Symphonic Dances right now. I like the first movement much more than the second.

    The CD also has a recording of Nelly Lee singing "Vocalise," and yes, she does that neat trill with her voice.

    There's also Stravinsky's "Jeu de Cartes," but I haven't gotten to that yet.

    On Saturday night, I drove for two hours in the dark while listening to Gorecki's Symphony No. 3. It was quite a disorienting experience.

By kazoo on Monday, October 14, 2002 - 12:47 pm:

    I'm taking notes on all this...thanks people.

    I have Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No.3, Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra, with Evgeny Kissin. Damn he's good, and he's got a great head of hair.

By Dougie on Monday, October 14, 2002 - 04:34 pm:

    Cool, Spider. Glad you like it. Actually, the 2nd movement's a waltz. I'm very partial to waltzes -- the lopsided 5/4 waltz in Tchaikovsky's 6th, and his non-lopsided one in the Serenade for Strings, all the Strauss' waltzes, including (and especially) Richard's Rosenkavalier, Prokofiev's, Chopin's, and of course, taking it to its nth degree, Ravel's La Valse, but yeah, I would have to say my favorite is the first movement. If you guys want to know anything and everything about piano music, ask our host. He's the Piano Man, and he's got us feelin' alright.

By sarah on Monday, October 14, 2002 - 11:14 pm:

    i just listened to mark playing Rachmaninoff, yesterday.

By Dougie on Tuesday, October 15, 2002 - 02:05 am:

    What was he playing? Was it on wsbj.com?

By sarah on Tuesday, October 15, 2002 - 08:23 pm:

    Etude #6. i have no idea what it was on, sorry Dougie.

By Joe on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 02:32 am:

    i once heard a piano "roll" made by rachmaninov in the early 1900's on a "reproducing" piano (basically, a player piano that can play with expression). it was unbelievable. it was like he was sitting there playing live. it's a shame that there are no recordings of stuff like this.

By patrick on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 11:49 am:

    wouldn't it be hilarious (in a Monty Python kind of way) to look out your window to your street (say you live on a hill like i do) and see a piano rolling down?

    thats what i thought of when i read "heard a piano 'roll'"

By kazoo on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 11:54 am:

    yes, that would be funny.

    but then it would crash.

    and that would make me sad.

By Spider on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 01:20 pm:

    Dougie, the 2nd Symphonic Dance is growing on me. I really don't like the third, though -- it's way too noisy and cluttered.

    My day was made this morning when I was flipping through the stations on the radio and I caught the last 3/4 of Aaron Copeland's Concerto for Clarinet and Strings -- my favorite piece ever. I even bought the score years ago, so I could follow all the instruments along.

    I first heard it when I was 13 and reading "Something Wicked This Way Comes." Hearing it again always makes me feel like I did then.

By Spider on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 01:30 pm:

    Hoo, i'm an idiot. It's C o p l a n d, and I think it's actually called just the Clarinet Concerto. Anyway.

By Dougie on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 06:52 pm:

    Glad you're liking it Spider. Oh yes, the Copland clarinet concerto -- that opening is SO beautiful with the clarinet and harp, and then the jazzy 2nd section is cool too. I think you got it right too about the name.

By Joe on Saturday, October 19, 2002 - 12:53 am:

    copland's concerto is great. i think that benny goodman recorded it before he died (maybe someone can confirm or deny). i was wrong about no recordings of reproducing pianos. there is a recording from the 1990's of gershwin's rhapsody in blue made by a 1920's style jazz band playing along with a roll made by gershwin. it's pretty cool.

By Spider on Wednesday, October 23, 2002 - 03:59 pm:

    I'd love to find Benny Goodman's recording of the Clarinet Concerto. God, that piece is like waking up in heaven.

    I'm listening to the soundtrack from "Shine" at the moment -- plenty of Rachmaninoff here, and the incidental music composed for the movie is really good. Especially the first track -- the chords are really interesting and dissonantly pretty.

By Dougie on Wednesday, October 23, 2002 - 06:50 pm:

By Spider on Thursday, October 24, 2002 - 09:51 am:


    Whoa, thanks, Dougie!

By Joe on Monday, October 28, 2002 - 11:47 pm:

    i hope you can snag it, spider. good luck!

By Nopie on Sunday, July 3, 2005 - 08:38 pm:

    Okay you young piano buffs...I agree on Rach and Chopin, but Satie and his Gymnoped-ohpil-ie make my skin crawl (though it's very amusing about the notes and titles, I have to say). This pianist friend of mine is coming out with a new album with both on them (I just saw him play them in Italy last month). His style makes me like all the works, whether I like the composer or not. What do you think of these? http://cdbaby.com/cd/jlgargiulo http://cdbaby.com/cd/jlgargiulo2

By droopy on Sunday, July 3, 2005 - 09:18 pm:

    i don't have sound on my computer.

    i'm listening to chief zehaie spin east african tunes (mostly eritrean) on the radio.

    the older i get, the more satie's music appeals to me.

By V on Saturday, July 9, 2005 - 03:51 pm:

    droopy,how many times do I have to say this? Vivaldi blows your ears clean off...you can keep the rest.

By droopy on Saturday, July 9, 2005 - 03:56 pm:

    i, personally, i have never heard you say anything about vivaldi.

By V on Saturday, July 9, 2005 - 04:23 pm:

    ...I have indeed,years back,you were off line for a while,mean while,v was raveing about Vivaldi,you must admit Sir,he is AWESOME!!!!!!...look Sir,do I have to explain,when Vivaldi plays,he will bring in an instrument at at time,then more and more,untill he has the whole lot,then,you will just cream your pants when the harpsichord joins in,droopy,I do not go over the top on this,I think you have not heard the right bits.

By droopy on Saturday, July 9, 2005 - 06:24 pm:

    when i go baroque i'm more of a stripped-down j.s. bach man - like the suites for unaccompanied cello or the glenn gould piano interpretations.

By V on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 09:00 pm:

By V on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 09:07 pm:

    ...why they put pics of them selves on l.p. covers nude,I dont know.,but the music was fun.

By V on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 09:18 pm:

    ...obscure but odd,semi classic,I was in love with it in,76.,and I still have a "Penguin cafe" l.p. to dig out from a store room.

By V on Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 11:25 am:

    droopy,I have spiderwebs growing from me to the computer screen.

By droopy on Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 01:29 pm:

    waiting for me to post? i did look them up on the net. they sound interesting.

    but i found something that i want to buy and play at work:

    Yat-Kha: Yensei-Punk

    Just North of Mongolia lies the Republic of Tuva. Its musical speciality is "throuat singing," a technique that creates multiphonic drones sounds, and Albert Kuvezin, leader of the Tuvan quartet Yat-Kha (the name of one of their traditional stringed instruments) augments those signature sounds with distorted electric guitar and booming bass and drums.

    cool like the north asian tundra.

By V on Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 08:44 pm:

    droopy,as allways you are awesome,1,v needs to shake your hand for being so amazing,2 v needs to find that mongolian site,any hints or tips on that?

By droopy on Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 09:14 pm:

By V on Friday, July 15, 2005 - 03:58 pm:

    ...have you put your ear to this rare stuff?

By droopy on Friday, July 15, 2005 - 04:07 pm:

    no. my computer doesn't have speakers, so i can't download a sample or anything. i was just going to order it and take my chances. but i did see a show about the trans-siberian railway that, when it passed through mongolia, played that throat music. i thought it was really cool.

    let me know if you hear any of it.

By V on Friday, July 15, 2005 - 04:36 pm:

    ...Jeez,I was just going to say the same to you,I want to play it full blast in traffic jams to freak out the black kids that play rap...I allready do that with Mozart,so loud it makes my ribs vibrate,like you,I may order it for the hell of it :) and just a thought,is there such a thing as a Chinese nose flute?...if there is,I dont think it works too well if you have a heavy cold...and have you come across "click singing" from Africa?

By droopy on Friday, July 15, 2005 - 08:08 pm:

    i haven't heard of "click singing". i assume it has to do with the bushmen of the kalahari. i'll try to track it down.

    i ordered the yat-kha, along with robert johnson, lost sonatas on george antheil, and peggy lee ("is that all there is?"). i should get it in about 2 weeks.

By V on Saturday, July 16, 2005 - 07:24 pm:

    ...but how about the Chinese nose flutes?the ones you cant play if you have a heavy cold.

By V on Saturday, July 16, 2005 - 07:28 pm:

    Im sure the click songs are from Africa.


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