About this work
Rachmaninov composed his second Suite for two pianos, Op. 17 at about the same as his Second Piano Concerto, and it is stylistically similar. The work is full of lush, lyrical melodies, florid and complex passagework, and Rachmaninov's characteristic driving rhythm. Rachmaninov's total command and mastery of the pianistic idiom permeates the entire Suite. It is one of his most successful masterpieces, completely effective on every level. A chordal and energetic March opens the Suite. It is in a simple three-part form (\ABA) with a brief coda. In the following movement, a swirling and hypnotic waltz, the rhythmic impulse is complemented by rapid and complex figurations that create a breathless quality. The middle section is richly lyrical, yet retains the underlying rhythmic drive. The third movement is an Romance. This title, so often found in Rachmaninov's early works, is here utterly descriptive of the movement's emotional qualities. A romantically lush melody rises out of an arpeggiated accompaniment, passes through a longing central section in the minor key, and eventually rises to an ecstatic climax. Closing the Suite is a Tarantelle. Based on the characteristic Italian folk dance, this movement elevates the genre to nearly orchestral proportions. Driving rhythms and powerful climaxes are contrasted with interludes of delicate passagework that ultimately build to the effective and virtuosic coda.
Curated by Maria Nemtsova, Pianist