(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Russian pianist Vassily Primakov joins distinguished cellist Yehuda Hanani in a program of works by Sergei Rachmaninoff at the Mahaiwe on Saturday, March 21, 2015, at 6pm, as part of the Close Encounters with Music series. Among the works they will perform are the Sonata for Piano and Cello, the early Prelude and Orientale, and Variations on a Theme of Corelli.
For many in classical music, Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) was one of the last links between 19th century Romanticism and modernity. As pianist or conductor, his grand presence on stage (he was 6 foot 6 inches) embodied bygone artistic values and a style of expression missed greatly by the public. The oceanic, enveloping sound Rachmaninoff’s music generates and his ability to stun audiences with performances of his fiendishly difficult pieces helped make him one of the highest paid performers of his time, one of the most influential pianists of the 20th century, and a veritable “rock star” of classical music.
No doubt one of the secrets of Rachmaninoff’s immense popularity is the power of nostalgia. His grip on us relates to a universal wish to rescue an irretrievable past. Although he worked in the West and was a fan of the Jack Benny show from his Hollywood home, he remained an exile, staunchly steeped in nostalgia and continuing the great Romantic Russian tradition of his teacher Tchaikovsky.
Rachmaninoff’s reputation has skyrocketed since the years when he was dismissed as a “Hollywood composer” (he never wrote a note for a movie, though his music was appropriated for 50 films). Pianist Vassily Primakov has made the music of Scriabin and Rachmaninoff a specialty. Yehuda Hanani was the first Western artist to record the cello/piano sonatas of Nicolai Miaskovsky, another great Russian melodist. Timothy Sergay, professor of Russian Studies at SUNY Albany, will lead a discussion on the subject of Russian Oriantalia at the Afterglow reception, onstage at the Mahaiwe, following the performance, over wine and local reception fare.
Tickets, $45 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $25 (Balcony), are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413.528.0100. Subscriptions are $150 ($130 for seniors) for the remaining 4 concerts in the series. Visit Close Encounters with Music.