Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.2: Musical Sublimation of Pain


We sometimes feel isolated and ignored by others regarding either achievements or personality. I also had such an experience that my works had been put aside and not recognized, which led me to depression as Sergei Rachmoaninoff had suffered from serious depression as well after his first Symphony was unsuccessfully premiered and discouraged by severe criticisms. With the help of psychotherapy treatments by Dr. Dahl, he successfully escaped from depression and became confident for his capability as a composer. He started to compose the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, and it was successfully premiered and greatly praised by the audiences. Needless to say, he won reputation as a composer around the world. It might be because of such a background in his life that the Piano concerto has been always beneficial for me to heal my depression and reduce stress from criticisms. 

The second movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 is the most beautiful and romantic part in the concerto. It starts playing with solemn sound just like opening a Pandora's box filled with secrets. But it is soon followed by tranquil melodies, entering with flutes and clarinets, which is reminiscent of the beautiful memories in the past. The composer might intend to express his irresistible yearning for either his homeland Russia or romantic days before his marriage with Vera who had troubles with him [1]. In this part, the pianist looks like lapsing into a state of nostalgic sweetness. The movement is then extensively developed by strings, just as soothing and singing a lullaby to a baby at a serene beach. Followed by bassoons and horns, the music is accelerated by piano; although this part brings to mind my past anguished and melancholic time, it is definitely one of parts moving me. It finally arrives at its climax with fast but understated rhythm of piano, and the original theme introduced in the first movement is repeated, and ended with sensitive fingers to the keyboard with E major. It is the most touching part in this movement, like a fantasy in which all my inexpressible pain, sorrow and depression, engraved in past memories, are sublimated to a new start filled with comfort, joy and peace, as the pianist hits the keys strongly but assertively. Digressing a little bit, my favorite pianists who played this concerto could be listed as Anna Fedorova, Denis Matsuev, and Evgeny Kissin.

References
1. Chad Hille, Rachmaninoff's Works for Piano and Orchestra, Classy Classical, Sep 2005.
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