Rachmaninov, last giant of pianist-composers

Sergei Rachmaninov in front of his piano, offered by Steinway for his 60th birthday. For his performer Leif Ove Andsnes, the composer “developed the possibilities of the instrument in an essential way”. Fototeca Gilardi/Bridgeman Images

The musician, whose 150th birth anniversary is being celebrated, forever changed the face of pianistic virtuosity through his works… But also through his career as a performer. As they pay tribute to him this Wednesday in Paris, Leif Ove Andsnes and Lukas Geniusas look back on his legacy.

One faced his first “Rach 3” at the age of 22… Before recording it seventeen years later at Warner, alongsideAntonio Pappano and London Symphony Orchestra, in a version which remains a reference. The other has just delivered, at Alpha, the most beautiful surprise of this year Rachmaninoff: the recording of his first piano sonata, in its original version found at the National Music Museum in Moscow, on the piano of the master himself. A work of incandescent virtuosity and almost disproportionate scale, to be placed, both for its complexity and for its excesses, at the same level as the third concerto!

The Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnesto whom Warner Clics is dedicating a vast box set containing all of his recordings (including the Rachmaninovs) over the period 1990-2010, and the Russian-Lithuanian Lukas Geniusas, twenty years his junior, will perform simultaneously this December 6 in Paris , one at the Philharmonie, the other at the Salle Cortot as part of this season…

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