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Topic: Rachmaninoff Sonatas  (Read 2537 times)

Offline liszmaninopin

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Rachmaninoff Sonatas
on: August 26, 2003, 04:32:34 AM
I am deliberating whether to learn Rachmaninoff's Sonata #1, op. 28 or his #2, op. 36 (1913 version)
I really love each piece, but which is the easier technically?  I think I am capable of learning them, but would rather start on the easier one of the two.

debussy_lover

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Re: Rachmaninoff Sonatas
Reply #1 on: August 26, 2003, 08:31:31 AM
I would say that the d minor Sonata is probably the easier, technically speaking - the notes lie under the fingers naturally.  In comparison, the writing in the b-flat Sonata is more indiosyncratic, and asks more from the performer in terms of pure virtuosity.

That said, the first Sonata is extremely (extremely!) long, and that presents its own set of difficulties.  Maintaining the emotional intesnity of the work can be exhausting.  As well, it must be said that it can hard to make the piece hang together for a listener.

My opinion on which one you should learn?  I would go for the d minor, if only becuase has many beautiful moments, and is very infrequently played.  The b-flat is becoming overworked, what with everyone trying to prove themselves to be the next Horowitz.  

Offline Leporello

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Re: Rachmaninoff Sonatas
Reply #2 on: August 26, 2003, 05:36:27 PM
I totally disagree.  The D minor Sonata is one of the most difficult pieces out there.  There are stories of people who have played the Rachmaninoff Third but have trouble with this sonata.  The sonata is extremely difficult in terms of technique (particularly the last movement) and, coming in at 44 minutes, requires a lot of endurance and strength from the performer.  

Neither of the Rachmaninoff sonatas are easy.  But if you want the easier one, go for the B flat minor.

debussy_lover

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Re: Rachmaninoff Sonatas
Reply #3 on: August 26, 2003, 10:27:57 PM
Leporello, we don't totally disagree.  The d minor Sonata is very long and does require a lot of strength and endurance, no question about it.

However, I am able to sight-read 95% of the d minor at tempo.  I can't say the same of the b-flat.  The last movement is especially daunting.  

To me it is very clear which work is technically easier.  Obviously both pieces provide plenty of challenge - despite having the more modest demands of the two, the d-minor is still a big project .

I really can't see how anybody who can play the 3rd Concerto would find the 1st Sonata a problem.  What pianists are you referring to that made statements to that effect?

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Rachmaninoff Sonatas
Reply #4 on: September 04, 2003, 01:03:40 AM
I have been slowly sight reading through the first movements of each, and it seems as if the first is somewhat easier, and I think I'll do that one.

Offline IgnazPaderewski

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Re: Rachmaninoff Sonatas
Reply #5 on: January 04, 2004, 05:31:56 PM
The first sonata is several hundred times more difficult than the second, and the reason that one may be able to sight read it better is that it is in an EASIER KEY than the second (less accidentals). It is horribly difficult - Leslie Howard says it is much harder than the 3rd concerto. The B flat minor lies easily under the fingers, whereas the D minor simply does not (the passage before the cadenza at the end of the first mvt is harder than anything in both sonatas). Plus the length is exhausting, and to bring out the tune in the last movement (marked in the score, but ogdon conveniently omits it) is very hard. There is no passage in the second sonata which is particularly taxing by itself, whereas there are lots in the first, and to bring out the voices that SR marks and make sense of it is far harder than the 2nd, I find it a much more elusive yet more satisfying work. Its a bugger though.

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Rachmaninoff Sonatas
Reply #6 on: January 04, 2004, 06:32:05 PM
Which passage do you mean right before the cadenza?  I am searchiing my score and can find no area marked cadenza.  I might guess you are referring to the climatic section marked allegro. (pg. 112 in the Dover edition)

Offline IgnazPaderewski

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Re: Rachmaninoff Sonatas
Reply #7 on: January 04, 2004, 07:59:07 PM
the bit right before the gretchen theme is introduced.

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Rachmaninoff Sonatas
Reply #8 on: January 04, 2004, 08:48:05 PM
I hate to sound ignorant, but what's the "gretchen" theme?
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