Sergey Rachmaninov

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40

    Description by Sol Louis Siegel

    When Rachmaninov came to America in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, he had little beside his family and his talent. Confronted with the need to make money quickly, he eschewed composition and conducting and went on long concert tours as a pianist. It was not until 1926 that he felt secure enough to take a break and start writing again. His first post-exile work, the Fourth Piano Concerto, was premiered in 1927 with the composer as soloist and Leopold Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra. Its public and critical reception was chilly at best. Though Rachmaninov later revised it and rewrote the third movement, the Fourth Concerto has never really gained a foothold in the repertory. It could be that the tone is cooler and more remote than we expect from Rachmaninov -- this is, after all, the work of an exile picking up a lost thread -- or that the structure in the outer movements is harder to grasp. Or maybe it's just that its melodies aren't as memorable. In the hands of an inspired virtuoso, however, the concerto will yield its melancholy secrets.

    The opening Allegro vivace (Alla breve) gets off to a dramatic start with an ascending crescendo from the orchestra and a grand chordal theme from the soloist that searches for a while before finding its home key. This theme and a restless, lyric second subject are developed in rhapsodic manner, reaching a great, extended climax before the movement's abrupt close. The main theme of the wistful and nostalgic Largo is in fact memorable, restlessly restated in a series of different keys. It crashes directly in the Allegro vivace finale, which in its whirlwind virtuosity and rhythmic instability recalls the finale of the First Concerto, albeit through the prism of regretful hindsight. Near the end the climactic material of the first movement returns, ushering in a brilliant coda expressing a hard-won optimism.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro vivace (Alla breve)
    2. Largo - attacca subito
    3. Allegro vivace

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Deutsche Grammophon 4835335
    2017 IBA [Idil Biret Archives] 8501065
    2015 CAG CAG 114
    2015 Claudio CB 60272
    2015 Philharmonia Records PHR 0104
    2015 Alto / Musical Concepts MCSCD 6005
    2014 Praga PRDDSD 350110
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002128
    2014 Warner Classics 2564627827
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 4793631
    2014 Decca
    2014 Decca 4786348
    2014 Decca 4786765
    2014 Decca B002033502
    2013 Decca
    2013 Decca B001811702
    2013 Decca
    2013 Decca
    2013 Decca 4785093
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099931938525
    2012 Warner Classics
    2012 BIS BISCD 975
    2012 Analekta AN 29288
    2011 Avie AV2191
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099908519
    2011 Warner Classics
    2011 EMI Classics 918726
    2011 Nimbus NI 1720
    2011 Membran 233053
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099908528025
    2011 EMI Classics
    2011 Dutton Digital / Dutton Laboratories CDVS 1918
    2010 Decca
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099964051
    2010 Decca
    2010 Decca
    2010 Hyperion 14
    2010 Sony Classical 88697712852
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Membran 232676
    2009 BIS 1728
    2009 Decca
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099920600
    2007 Living Era Classics 2014
    2007 APR (Appian) 6005
    2007 Zephyr 12807
    2007 EMI Classics
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950087
    2007 Decca 4758548
    2006 Finlandia
    2006 Edel Records 2832
    2006 Arte Nova 797600
    2006 Brilliant 7794
    2006 Mirare 19
    2006 Fazer / Finlandia
    2006 Warner Music 2564 63675-2
    2006 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243476948
    2006 Decca 4757550
    2006 Warner Classics
    2006 RCA 67892
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99668
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Warner Classics 61946
    2005 Chandos 24130
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 EMI Classics
    2004 Brilliant 6214
    2004 Naxos 554477
    2004 Hyperion 67501/2
    2004 Hyperion 67501/2SACD
    2004 Delta Distribution 16329
    2004 Berlin Classics 0013422BC
    2003 Decca 473251
    2003 Delta Distribution 40040
    2003 Chandos 10078
    2002 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243575510
    2002 Sony Classical 89962
    2001 Philips 4689212
    2001 CBC Records 5129
    2001 Classica d'Oro 3002
    2001 Challenge Records CC72012
    2001 Ondine 977
    2001 Naxos 8 505177
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 73765
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 5551882
    2000 Naxos 550809
    2000 EMI Classics
    2000 Decca 467453
    2000 Naxos 8501005
    2000 Finlandia 81967
    2000 Angel Records 67258
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 Naxos 110602
    1999 Chandos 7114
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 4190612
    1999 Philips 456874
    1998 Helicon Records 1035
    1998 London 458930
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 453 136-2GTA2
    1998 Nimbus 1761
    1998 Palexa 506
    1998 London 460608
    1997 Finlandia 0630-17277-2
    1997 Melodiya 40068
    1997 London
    1997 London 455234
    1997 Berlin Classics 0093022
    1996 Laserlight 24415
    1996 EMI Music Distribution 68619
    1996 Nimbus 5478
    1996 Carlton 01132
    1995 LaserLight 14272
    1995 London 444839
    1994 RCA 61658
    1994 Chandos 6605
    1993 Chandos CHAN9192
    1993 Decca / Philips
    1993 Philips 438326
    1992 Vox 5008
    1992 RCA 61265
    1991 Chesky Records 41
    1991 Chandos CHAN8987
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 46541
    1991 Chandos 8882/3
    1990 Decca / London 425004
    1989 London 425576
    1988 London 421590
    1988 Decca
    1986 London 414475
    RCA 6659
    Magic Talent 48076
    Monopoly 2030
    RPO 7022
    Bayer Records 100194
    The Piano Library 276
    Brilliant Classics 99668/24
    Chandos 8521
    Classical Records 006
    Arte 0008