Hola a todos. Here is a splendid performance of Sergei Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 4 in g minor, Op 40 (1941 Version) with pianist Simon Tedeschi and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Northey in the Sydney Opera House. This is a performance from 2017 and overall the best one I’ve heard.
Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 4 is neglected compared to his Second and Third concertos, which are the most often performed. This concerto needs to be performed more often. Give the Second and Third a little break.
Some History: The three versions of this concerto (the 1926, 1928, and 1941)
There are three versions of this concerto. There’s the original 1926 manuscript, which was not well received when it premiered. At that point, Rachmaninov decided to make some cuts in the concerto and other changes in the writing and he published that version in 1928. That version was not well received either, so apparently fed up with the whole thing at that point, Rachmaninov decided to shelve it. But fortunately for el mundo/the world, he eventually got around to working on it again and revised it. He published that final version in 1941, and that’s the version performed in the video below and the most often performed version today. I’ve heard a performance of the original manuscript and I liked it, but think I prefer the 1941 version. I read that pianist/conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy prefers the 1926 version having conducted it twice and performed it once as piano soloist.
Rachmaninov made cuts and/or revisions to some of his pieces because he wasn’t pleased with them and/or they were not well-received. In some instances he made cuts to his music because some people complained that his pieces were too long. He also made cuts to his pieces just to get them performed. He made cuts in the Third Piano Concerto. I’ve heard a recording of a cut Rachmaninov Third and I didn’t like it because I knew sections were missing. I’ve played the Third in its original form — although not with an orchestra; concerto opportunities don’t come around that often unless one has an agent and works as an international concert artist or takes part in piano competitions — so I knew that not all of the piece was there. I’m of the opinion that if one is going to perform his music, perform it as he originally wrote it, or in its final version in the case of the Piano Concerto No. 4.
What’s there to say about this performance? Well, I have nothing but positive things to say about it. Should I have the opportunity to play this concerto with an orchestra some day, I hope to play it as well! This is my favourite performance of this concerto available online at YT. Simon plays beautifully. Absolutely. He seems very relaxed and to thoroughly enjoy himself in this performance. He doesn’t seem to be the least bit nervous. I noticed he was smiling to himself while he was accompanying the orchestra with some piano texture while listening to those superb first violins who had the melody. That begins at 9.35 in the video (or you may want to start it a bit before to lead into that section). Later, listen to how he rattles off those well-drilled runs of the third movement. Very clean playing and never an overuse of pedal. Rachmaninov barely gives the pianist any break in the third movement and the orchestra is very busy as well. Superb playing all around. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra is one of the finest — a really excellent string section; they are amazing — and I enjoyed watching the conductor and the leader/concertmaster, the second chair violinist and the principal cellist among others. I’ve watched this performance many times and it’s most enjoyable. I never tire of watching it. It’s also extremely well recorded including the camera work which is not always the case with piano concerto performances. There was another performance on YT equally as good I would say, but that performance was removed due to the orchestra from Moscow making a copyright claim. (roll eyes; sigh). So I was very pleased when I found this outstanding performance from Simon and the Sydney SO.
By the way, the Steinway & Sons piano he’s playing is one of the finest I’ve heard. Listen to that sparkling treble register. It’s probably a Homborg Steinway, as opposed to a New York Steinway. Also, Simon and Mark (the conductor) seem to have a really good rapport which is very important in concerto performances. Simon uses tasteful rubato in places and the orchestra accompanies him accordingly.
Nice to see him avoiding the black and white performance tradition/rut of the classical music tradition by wearing a burgundy jacket (very pretty) which matches the arms of his glasses if you look closely. Chau.—el barrio rosa