Finally, we are able to offer one of Rachmaninoff’s most important, most substantial piano works in a meticulous Urtext edition that does justice to the work and to the editorial difficulties it raises. Rachmaninoff was unhappy with the dense textures and the length of his Piano Sonata in b-flat minor, so almost 20 years after its composition and publication he made numerous cuts and “streamlined” it – though this has been criticised by pianists down to the present day. For this reason, it is mostly the first version that is played today – or even a mixture of the two versions such as Vladimir Horowitz used to perform (albeit with the permission of the composer). This Henle Urtext edition contains both versions by Rachmaninoff in their entirety and also takes into account the autograph in the Moscow Glinka Museum. As in all the Rachmaninoff editions in the catalogue of G. Henle Publishers, the fingerings here are by Marc-André Hamelin, one of the outstanding pianists of our time.
Read more about this edition in the Henle Blog.
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Sergei V. Rachmaninoff (1873 – 1943) composed his 2nd Piano Sonata in bb minor op. 36 in the year 1913. He began work on it in January while sojourning with his family in Rome. The journey was disrupted when his daughters became seriously ill, and he was only able to dedicate himself to composing again in the following summer. However, at Ivanovka, the family’s … more
About the composer
Composer and pianist who continued and expanded the late-Romantic tradition; he prepared the way for Prokofiev and Shostakovich. His oeuvre comprises orchestral works, piano pieces, choral works, several operas, and numerous songs.
|1873||Born in Semyonovo on April 1. From 1880 receives professional instruction in music.|
|1885–92||Studies music at the Moscow Conservatory.|
|1890–92||Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 1, with the diminished fourth in the main theme typical of his style.|
|1892||Successful performance of his one-act opera “Aleko” (a graduation work). Prelude in C-sharp minor for piano.|
|1897||Unsuccessful premiere of the Symphony No. 1, Op. 13 (with abrupt contrasts). First experiences as an opera conductor at Moscow’s Mamontov Theater. He becomes acquainted with Fyodor Shalyapin, later his friend.|
|1900/01||Composition of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, in a modified style (broad melodic arcs, transparent compositional style).|
|1904–06||Appointed conductor at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.|
|1906||Premieres of the operas “The Miserly Knight,” Op. 24, and “Francesca da Rimini,” Op. 25.|
|1907||Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27, with whimsical figuration in the woodwinds; Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 28.|
|1909||Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30; symphonic poem “The Isle of the Dead,” Op. 29|
|from 1910||More complex compositional technique (enhanced polyphony, ambiguous harmonies, fast rhythmic alterations) in Thirteen Preludes for piano, Op. 32; “Études-tableaux,” Op. 33 (1911); Fourteen Songs, Op. 34 (1910–16).|
|1917||Rachmaninoff leaves Russia and lives in Stockholm, Copenhagen, the United States (career as pianist), and Switzerland.|
|1926/41||Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40. In 1935/36, Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44.|
|from 1939||He emigrates permanently to the United States.|
|1943||Death in Beverly Hills on March 28.|
About the authors
For anyone interested in playing, studying or getting to know the work, Dominik Rahmer’s brand new edition for Henle Verlag will be of profound interest. (...) It is left to the performer to decide how best to proceed, but with such a clear text direct Henle’s outstanding presentation of the notation, which is as ever well-spaced, clearly and beautifully engraved on cream paper already makes this new edition the one to own, but the addition of Hamelin’s fingering also adds considerable appeal, and will undoubtedly be highly valued by concert pianists following him in preparing this work for performance.
Der interessierte Pianist steht freilich zunächst einmal vor der Frage, welche der beiden Fassungen für ihn die richtige ist. Da die neue Urtext-Ausgabe aus dem Hause Henle beide Fassungen beinhaltet, kann er sie bequem miteinander vergleichen. ... Die revidierte Ausgabe wurde auf der Grundlage der Erstausgabe von 1931 erstellt. Etwaige Korrekturen offensichtlicher Stichfehler durch den Herausgeber sind in den Einzelbemerkungen minutiös nachgewiesen.
Dominik Rahmer hat nun im Henle-Verlag beide Fassungen des Komponisten in einem Band veröffentlicht, und man kann somit bequem Takt für Takt die Unterschiede studieren. Das Notenbild ist – wie üblich bei Henle – selbst in der überladenen Erstfassung übersichtlich und gut lesbar. Die Fingersätze verraten den gewieften Praktiker und stammen von Marc-André Hamelin, der ja nicht nur dieses Repertoire bestens kennt.