Top 50 Favorite/Best Classical – #39 Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
Sergei Rachmaninoff is an amazing composer who created a number of rich, beautiful, melodic pieces that touch deeply into your heart. Growing up, I’ve always loved his famous Prelude in C# minor with the explosive latter half, but for some reason, when I was younger I never got into his multitude of other pieces, including this one, his second piano concerto.
This piece has an interesting history to it because he premiered his first symphony in 1897, but was derided which, along with other factors, led Rachmaninoff into a terrible depression. The first symphony is actually quite good and worthy of a listener’s time. There’s actually an interesting history behind the challenges Rachmaninoff faced with his first symphony, which you can read about here (http://classyclassical.blogspot.com/2005/09/rachmaninoffs-works-for-piano-and.html), rivalry between St. Petersburg and Moscow composers, love lost, and hard work composing a symphony derided.
Rachmaninoff took several years off from composing, meeting with a psychotherapist to do hypnosis treatments, and eventually he felt better about himself and composing music. Out of that misery, he created his Second Piano Concerto. It is a gorgeous lyrical three movement concerto in C minor that begins with chromatic planing chords built on C minor just on the piano that actually remind me a lot of the Prelude in C# minor, with its similar kind of entrance.
My favorite part of the piece is the second half of the second movement when the piano quiets down to these gorgeous arpeggios with the strings and flutes hovering ever so gently above the piano. It’s just so lovely, soothing and romantic.
As far as which recording to view. Here is Rachmaninoff himself at the piano from an old recording.
I also recommend this one from Anna Fedorova. Enjoy!
#39 – Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
#40 – Miranda Hamilton
#41 – Strauss Salomé
#42 – Britten Peter Grimes
#43 – Loewe My Fair Lady
#44 – Liszt Mephisto Waltzes
#45 – Webber Evita
#46 – Poledouris Conan The Barbarian
#47 – Bernstein Trouble in Tahiti
#48 – Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
#49 – Chaminade La Lisonjera, Op. 50
#50 – Beethoven Coriolan Overture, Op. 62