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Volume 5, Number 11
30 November 1998

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BASSO Concert Notes for December 8
Steven Ledbetter Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) had an extraordinary career. He did three things extremely well. He was an accomplished conductor, was one of this century's great pianists, and was a remarkable composer. His early solo piano works, (Prelude in C# minor, Moments musicaux), written in the late nineteenth century, made him well known to the public, but a few of his more ambitious compositions, like the First Symphony (1897), were public disasters. Even after the success of his opera Aleko, Rachmaninoff remained in deep despair and wasn't sure that he should continue to compose. He would visit Tolstoy for artistic stimulation (who told him that he would be famous because he had a fascinating face), but these visits only depressed him instead of giving him the inspiration that he was hoping for. He finally became so discouraged that he sought help from a doctor by the name of Nikolay Dahl, who specialized in hypnosis. Whether Dr. Dahl swung a watch before his eyes or not is unknown, but the few sessions that they had together were designed to restore Sergei's energy and give him confidence in his creative abilities. Dr. Dahl convinced him that the next works that he would write would become world famous. The sessions worked. On November 9, 1901, Rachmaninoff performed the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor for the first time. It is a work filled with passionate, yearning, sweeping melodies that display his opulent Romantic style. It was a huge success and is perhaps the most popular piano concerto of this century. Composers ever since have been searching for their own Dr. Dahl.

Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 in E minor (1906-7) has the same broad, richly harmonic style that marks the Second Piano Concerto. It is in four full movements employing expansive, large-scale structures and uses a large orchestra that Rachmaninoff handles with great skill and subtlety. Melodies abound in this work, especially in the famous third-movement Adagio, with its irresistibly beautiful main theme.

If all you know of Rachmaninoff's music is the Rach, third (from the movie Shine), or the beautiful Second Piano Concerto, you will be exceedingly grateful that such a brilliant work as the Second Symphony has crossed your path.

Program for tuesday, December 8

Conductor Vitali Katayev and pianist Arın Karamürsel.

Rachmaninoff/Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor and Symphony No. 2 in E minor
at 9 p.m. at the Faculty of Music and Performing Arts Auditorium.

For more information and reservations, call 266-4382.

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