One of the most iconic pieces of classical music, Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto was first intended for a London concert in 1899. However, in that same year, Rachmaninov had suffered a mental breakdown and was suffering a creative block after the disastrous premiere of his first symphony.
His confidence as a composer was severely impacted, and he became a patient of Russian physician Nicolai Dahl.
To him, the second piano concerto was dedicated.
The first movement of the concerto was completed in 1901, while the other two had been written in 1900.
Rachmaninov at the piano, early 1900s
Rachmaninov piano concerto n.2: an analysis of the 1st movement
Exposition: first theme
The structure is a sonata form, beginning with an introduction of the piano. The first 8 bars are essentially rooted around the subdominant (the F) with chromatic alteration on each chord. Until the last of these 8 bars, when we finally get the dominant leading to C minor
It goes without saying but leave the pianist alone in the introduction.
Once you start conducting, your arms should be around your waist level: body position and baton placement are really important as they add the proper weight and character to the music.
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