Sergey Rachmaninov

Polka W.R., for piano in A flat major, TN ii/18

    Description by Robert Cummings

    The title to this Rachmaninov piano piece may strike the listener as a bit odd, but the story behind it is even odder and has involved considerable confusion. The work is often billed as "Polka on a Theme by W.R.," the "W.R." standing for Wasily (usually spelled Vasily) Rachmaninov, the composer's father. Understandably, many have thus assumed the theme in this Polka was written by Wasily, but it was in fact composed by Franz Behr, and used in his once widely known Lachtäuben, Op. 303. Apparently, the young Rachmaninov had heard the amateur-pianist Wasily play Behr's polka and assumed it was his father's composition.

    Rachmaninov's Polka in A flat is actually an arrangement of Behr's, making little attempt to update its nineteenth century expressive language, though the composer does add his own charming touches and a measure of technical challenge. The work is elegant in the salon-like lightness and playfulness of the main theme, lively and mischievous in the sudden accelerations and quirky runs throughout. But what is particularly remarkable -- considering the serious and often gloomy nature of Rachmaninov -- is his humorous, lighthearted manner here, his almost madcap, even slapstick spirit. Even the ending -- a sort of slow, dying statement of part of the theme in the lower register -- is quite amusing.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon B002475702
    2016 Piano Classics PCLM 0111
    2016 Odradek ODRBOX 01
    2016 Piano Classics PCLM 0104
    2015 Romeo Records RR 7309/10
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4795448
    2015 Sony Classical 88843054582
    2014 Genuin GEN 14302
    2014 Odradek ODRCD 317
    2014 Decca 4786348
    2014 Decca
    2014 Decca 4786765
    2014 Delos DE 3467
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon B001999602
    2013 BIS BIS 9044
    2013 Piano Classics PCL 0054
    2012 Dal Segno 038
    2011 Musical Concepts MC198
    2011 ICA Classics ICAC5020
    2010 Camerata Records 28177
    2010 Oehms Classics 780
    2010 Documents / Membran 232598
    2010 Dal Segno 051
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 4778827
    2010 Palexa 0541
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon 4778167
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Brilliant Classics 9014
    2009 Sony Music Distribution 88697575002
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 706005
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4776656
    2007 Decca
    2007 Universal Classics & Jazz
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon
    2007 ORF 204
    2006 Decca 4768537
    2006 RCA 67892
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon 000764972
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon 000707402
    2006 Tall Poppies 88
    2005 Palexa 536
    2005 Harmonia Mundi 907399
    2005 APR (Appian) 5625
    2004 Ivory Records 74002
    2004 MDG 6110547
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 000120102
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 000098810
    2002 Decca 470291
    2002 APR (Appian) 5623
    2001 Hyperion 67275
    2001 Miami International P 1
    2001 Pearl GEM0138
    2001 Ivory Records IC72003
    2000 BIS 883
    2000 Naxos 8501005
    2000 Erato 26388
    1999 Philips 462232
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 Philips 456724
    1998 Telarc Distribution 80489
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459 070-2GCC11
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459052
    1998 Naxos 550978
    1998 Philips 456943
    1996 Camerata Records 25CM364
    1995 APR (Appian) 7008
    1995 Arabesque 6663
    1994 ASV 6096
    1993 Laserlight 14128
    1993 Sony Music Distribution 48469
    1993 Hyperion 66486
    1993 Hyperion 44041/8
    1992 RCA 61265
    1991 Marco Polo 8220093
    1990 London 425964
    1989 RCA 7754
    1989 RCA 7766
    1986 Deutsche Grammophon 419 499-2GH
    EMI Music Distribution 7-54550
    Divox 25208
    EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 69527
    London 433651
    Rca Red Seal 1036
    Bescol 540
    IMP Classics 1051
    APR (Appian) 7013
    APR (Appian) 7014
    SAS 10001
    Klavier Records 11027
    London 433653
    Classic CD 103
    Vladimir Krainev International 22
    BBC Music Magazine 206