Sergey Rachmaninov

Etudes-Tableaux, for piano, Op. 33

    Description by Steven Coburn

    The quantity and numbering of these Etudes is confusing because Rachmaninov withdrew three of the original nine prior to publication. The original nine were as follows: #1 in f minor, #2 in C major, #3 in c minor, #4 in a minor, #5 in d minor, #6 in e-flat minor, #7 in E-flat major, #8 in g minor, and #9 in c-sharp minor. Rachmaninov withdrew numbers 3 in c minor, 4 in a minor and 5 in d minor. The a minor Etude, originally number 4, was included in the Etudes-Tableaux, Opus 39 as number 6, and the other two, in c minor and d minor were published posthumously. The resulting set of Etudes-Tableaux, Opus 33, thereby became a set of six, #1 in f minor, #2 in C major, #3 (formerly #6) in e-flat minor, #4 (formerly #7) in E-flat major, #5 (formerly #8) in g minor, and #6 (formerly #9) in c-sharp minor. The two posthumously published Etudes are now usually reinstated in the set between numbers 2 and 3, creating a set of eight Etudes. The style is identical to that of the Préludes, Opus 32, and, in fact, there is little technically to differentiate these pieces as distinctly Etudes rather than Préludes. On the other hand, the powerfully declamatory mood of these works seems to give them a more epic scale than the Préludes in spite of their similar length. This is presumably because of Rachmaninov's intention that these be more than just studies, but also "Tableaux" (pictures). #1, in f minor. This is a march in Rachmaninov's usual style. It is actually easier to play than most of the Préludes. #2, in C major. A lovely Nocturne, similar in mood and style to the Prélude Opus 32 #12. The right-hand melody soars above an arpeggiated left hand. Again, an Etude of only moderate difficulty. #3, in c minor (published posthumously). This is a slow and stately elegy. The second half in C major is less severe. Rachmaninov used the closing bars in the middle movement of his Fourth Piano Concerto, which may explain its withdrawal from the original set. #4, in d minor (published posthumously). Driving rhythms propel this staccato chord study. Brilliant and effective, it is unknown why Rachmaninov withdrew it from the original set. #5, in e-flat minor (originally #6, published as #3). Complex rapid figurations are the main feature of this breathtaking and difficult study. The harmony is fleeting and chromatic. #6, in E-flat major (originally #7, published as #4). Strongly reminiscent of the E major Prélude Opus 32, #3, this Etude is a brilliant and vigorously exciting March. #7, in g minor (originally #8, published as #5). This is an elegiac Nocturne that gradually builds to a dramatic and declamatory central cadenza. The shortened reprise builds to another climactic cadenza before the hushed final chords. It is an extraordinarily original conception. #8, in c-sharp minor (originally #9, published as #6). Rachmaninov makes effective use of the shift between major and minor sonorities in this bold and declamatory piece. The overall mood is tragic and powerful.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro non troppo in F minor
    2. Allegro in C major
    3. Grave - Meno mosso in C minor
    4. Allegro in A minor (withdrawn, reused as Op. 39/6)
    5. Moderato in D minor
    6. Non allegro - Presto in E flat minor
    7. Allegro con fuoco in E flat major
    8. Moderato in G minor
    9. Grave in C sharp minor

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Hyperion CDA 68188
    2017 Divine Art DDA 25139
    2017 IBA [Idil Biret Archives] 8501065
    2017 Naxos 8573629
    2017 Decca / London
    2016 Piano Classics PCLM 0111
    2016 Odradek ODRBOX 01
    2016 Piano Classics PCL 0095
    2016 Piano Classics PCLM 0104
    2015 Steinway & Sons STN S30039
    2014 Three Oranges Recordings 3OR 10
    2014 Three Oranges Recordings
    2014 Odradek ODRCD 317
    2014 Decca 4786348
    2014 Somm 0136
    2014 Decca 4786765
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002100
    2013 Ars Produktion ARS 38505
    2013 Disc Auvers DAS 011
    2013 Decca 4785093
    2012 Chandos CHAN 10724
    2012 EtCetera Records KTC 1451
    2012 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186399
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099923228
    2012 Et'Cetera / EtCetera Records ETC 1450
    2011 Musical Concepts MC198
    2011 Hyperion CDH 55403
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Decca
    2010 Alto / Musical Concepts 1072
    2009 Brilliant Classics 9014
    2009 EMI Classics
    2008 Alphée / Zebralution
    2008 Brilliant Classics 6981
    2007 Pierian 0031
    2007 Chandos 10391
    2007 Brilliant 93180
    2005 Urtext 100653
    2005 Harmonia Mundi 907404
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 85817
    2003 Testament 1295
    2003 Challenge Classics CC72057
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 567938
    2002 Brilliant 6368
    2001 Nimbus 1736
    2000 Doron Music 3026
    2000 Naxos 8501005
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 Philips 456916
    1997 London
    1995 Harmonia Mundi HMN91 1547
    1995 London 444845
    1995 Decca
    1995 Nimbus 5439
    1994 Naxos 550347
    1993 Denon Records 1054
    1993 Sony Music Distribution 48472
    1993 Arabesque 6609
    1993 Hyperion 44041/8
    1992 ASV 789
    1988 Hyperion CDA66091
    Angela Park
    Protone Records 2207
    Brilliant 92117/2
    Brilliant 93180/20
    Decca 4763504
    Dante 9435
    Rca Red Seal 987232