Colorado Symphony Orchestra
Jeffrey Kahane, conductor
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances, Opus 45 (10/23/09)
Also, Charley anticipates the Denver Young Artists Orchestra's concert Sunday.

Ottorino Respighi: “St. Michael Archangel”(2nd movement) from Church Windows

Denver Young Artists Orchestra/ Scott O'Neil)
NCA (11/9/08) 5:50
And, Charley anticipates the Veronika String Quartet's appearance with the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs this weekend.
Franz Schubert: Quartettsatz in C minor, D.703
Veronika String Quartet (Veronika Afanassieva and Karine Garibova, violins, Ekaterina Dobrotvorskaia, viola; Mary Artmann, cello)
CPR Performance Studio 102308 MS
Frédéric Chopin: Etude No.9 in G flat major, Op.25 (Butterfly)
David Korevaar, piano
CPR Performance Studio 062408 MS

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943): Symphonic Dances, Opus 45
I. Non allegro
II. Andante con moto: tempo di valse
III. Lento assai; Allegro vivace

A few months before his death in 1943, Rachmaninoff complained of lacking the ``strength and fire'' to compose. When friends reminded him of the Symphonic Dances, he replied: ``Yes, I don't know how that happened. That was probably my last flicker.''
Rachmaninoff's ``last flicker'' was begun during the summer of 1940 on an estate in Long Island. By August, he wrote to conductor Eugene Ormandy: ``Last week I finished a new symphonic piece, which I naturally want to give first to you and your orchestra. It is called Fantastic Dances. I should like to play the piece for you.''
Meanwhile, Rachmaninoff had second thoughts about the title. ``It should have been called just Dances,'' he said, ``but I was afraid people would think I had written dance music for jazz orchestras.'' At one point he even considered titles for the three movements--``Midday,'' ``Twilight'' and ``Midnight''--but abandoned the idea in favor of the Italian tempo designations.
By the time Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra introduced the work on January 4, 1941, Rachmaninoff had settled on the title Symphonic Dances.
A New York performance three days later received a lukewarm reception. The World-Telegram reported that ``the composer took a bow from the stage. The prolonged applause was doubtless a tribute to himself rather than to his music, for the novelty nowhere rises to his best standards....The piece teems with weird sounds, some of them just plain echoes. Mr. Rachmaninoff's orchestra is definitely haunted, especially the wind section, which is a real rendezvous of ghosts.''
Olin Downes, writing in the New York Times, was more perceptive: ``The dances are simple in outline, symphonic in texture and proportion. The first one, vigorously rhythmed and somewhat in a pastoral vein, is festive in the first part and more lyrical and tranquil in the middle section. The second Dance begins with a muted summons, or evocation, of the brass, a motto repeated in certain places, and for the rest there are sensuous melodies, sometimes bitter-sweet, sometimes to a Viennese lilt--and Vienna is gone.
``In the last Dance, the shortest, the most energetic and fantastical of the three, an idea obtrudes which has obsessed the musical thinking of Rachmaninoff these many years--the apparition, in the rhythmical maze, of the terrible old plain chant, the Dies Irae.
``The Dances have no ostensible connection with each other. They could easily reflect a series of moods, presented in a certain loose sequence--of Nature, and memories, and reveries with some Dead Sea fruit in them--all unpretentious, melodic, sensuously colored and admirably composed music.''
At the end of the score, Rachmaninoff had written ``I thank Thee, Lord!'' It was his last major work. Two and half years after its completion, he died in Beverly Hills, California.