Best Rachmaninoff Music: 10 of the Composer’s Greatest Works of All Time

December 17, 2021, 3:00 PM

10 of Rachmaninoff’s greatest works.

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Famous for his monstrously difficult but heartbreakingly beautiful piano concertos, the music of Russian composer Rachmaninoff is rich, melodious and endlessly enriching.

From expansive piano concertos to luscious orchestral scores and delightful choral music, the music of Russian master Rachmaninoff is a rich tapestry of intense emotions and endless marvelous melodies.

Rachmaninoff was born in Semionovo, Russia, in 1873. The composer, pianist and conductor was known to be somewhat cold and distant on the outside, but the opposite is certainly true with his music.

Here are some of the best pieces of all time that he wrote.

Read more: Russian giant Rachmaninoff triumphs in the Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame

  1. Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor

    Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 has one of the most sublime melodies of any piano concerto ever written in its first movement. Big call we know, but it’s so emotional we’ll hold it. It is also a piece of difficult ferocity, even for the most seasoned virtuoso. Hear Russian pianist Victor Maslov address this epic journey of endurance and emotion below.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsQC7sRMPEE

  2. Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor

    Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto is widely described as the greatest piano concerto ever written. And Classic FM listeners tend to agree, voting atop the Classic FM Hall of Fame every year. It is an incredibly intense and melodious piece of music, ridiculously virtuoso for the soloist, and as expansive and lyrical as any of Rachmaninoff’s writing. Mind blowing stuff.

  3. Vocalize

    Although Rachmaninoff’s short play, Vocalize, was originally written for solo voice and orchestra, it is a song without words. Instead, the singer can choose to perform the sublime melody through the vowel of their choice. And of course, many instrumentalists have appropriated the irresistible melody, and the arrangements for violin, cello or piano have become among the best-known performances.

  4. Vespers (watch all night)

    by Rachmaninoff Vespers, also titled Vigil all night, was composed in 1915 and is one of the composer’s most introspective works. He was deeply religious and structured this unaccompanied choral work around the evening vespers and morning matins of the Christian church.

  5. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

    Take a devilishly difficult theme for a solo violinist, give it to a pianist and accompanying orchestra, and do it. even more virtuoso, dizzying and expansive. That’s what Rach did with this brilliant theme, which was originally Caprice No. 24 by classical Italian composer and violinist Niccolò Paganini.

  6. Symphony n ° 2

    The premiere of Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony was a disaster, but the reverse is certainly true of the reception around his Second Symphony. It’s a long job, an hour in all, and requires a lot of concentration, even from the most experienced symphonic listener, but it’s worth it. It is Rachmaninoff at the top of his orchestral work.

  7. The bells

    by Rachmaninoff The bells is a magnificent choral symphony featuring soprano, tenor and bass soloists. The text is a translation of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem of the same name, and much of the music is based on the Gregorian melody “Dies Irae”. And the real bonus? Rachmaninoff has just composed a piece for guest tubular bells. Divine.

  8. Six musical moments

    Rachmaninoff’s set of six miniature solo piano pieces dates from 1896. Every Moment is a wonderful Rachmaninovian reproduction of a musical form characteristic of a previous musical era – there is a nocturnal, a song without words, a barcarolle, a study and a theme and variants.

  9. Prelude in G minor

    The Prelude in G minor is Rachmaninoff’s piano writing in its most dramatic aspect. The opening is a very Russian surge of intensity, akin to a step, and the piece never fails to delight and surprise. Rachmaninoff himself premiered the play in Moscow in 1903.

  10. Sonata for cello

    Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Cello and Piano presents lyrical and heartbreaking melodies that create moments of deep reflection throughout this piece. It’s a melodious, poised and ridiculously beautiful writing that exploits the full range of the expressive solo instrument for which it is composed.



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