|No. 361 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montagesis this week's Tuesday Blog can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast361|
This week’s “Fifth Tuesday” quarterly podcast is dedicated to Rachmaninov’s Etudes-Tableaux, a curious mix of pianistic prowess and impressionism “à la sauce Russe”. There are 17 of these studies, eight in a set dating 1911, and nine in a later set from 1916-17. This latter set is presented today in its entirety.
To make my “impressionist” case, look no further than the five studies that Ottorino Respighi orchestrated and that are part of this week’s montage. Each one gets an evocative subtitle: “Red Riding Hood and the Wolf”, “Funeral March”, and so on. Four of the five pieces are taken from the same op. 39 set featured today.
In a Gramophone review, Bryce Morrison puts is quite plainly: ”Ferocious and tormenting in its demands, Op 39 is designed for those whose outsize technical command is complemented by a born feel for turbulence and upheaval.” Morrison’s survey of recordings of the corpus identify today’s performer, Nikolai Lugansky, “[at] his most audacious, willing to step outside convention and declaim Rachmaninov’s glory to the heavens.”
As a fitting homage to the composer, the montage opens with the old man himself in a vintage recording of a pair of the op. 33 studies. To close out the montage Mr. Lugansky returns with selections from Rachmaninov’s Moments Musicaux, a veiled homage to Schubert (in name only, I would argue) sophisticated works of longer duration, thicker textures, and greater virtuosic demands on the performer than any of Rachmaninoff's previous solo piano works.
I think you will love this music too.