Remembering Rachmaninov

John Allison writes as follows: Seventy years after his death, Sergei Rachmaninov’s star burns as brightly as ever. Few composers are better loved by a broad public, and listeners never seem to tire of his narrow range of musical moods.

It hardly seems to matter that many of Rachmaninov’s themes are almost incestuous: as the latest juxtaposition of his popular Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (at Cadogan Hall) with the more elusive All-Night Vigil (at St Martin-in-the-Fields) proved again, the remarkable consistency of this music is all part of its potency.

However neatly his life and career divides on either side of the Russian Revolution – like Chopin, he went into exile and was never to see his homeland again – Rachmaninov’s voice was hardly changed by it. If anything, it was only strengthened by a longing for home.


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