Sergey Rachmaninov

Pieces (2) for cello & piano, Op. 2

    Description by Robert Cummings

    As some may already know, Rachmaninov wrote a small but significant amount of music for cello. All of his works for the instrument feature piano accompaniment, and the most important of the group, of course, is the Op. 19 G minor Sonata, from 1901. The two pieces comprising Op. 2 are among his earliest efforts and while some influences can be heard in them, they are remarkably well-crafted considering the composer's youth; he was not yet 20 when he wrote them.

    These two works are entitled "Prelude," marked Comodo, and "Danse Orientale," marked Andante cantabile. The first opens with a rather straightforward melody on cello in a rich post-Romantic vein, already recognizable as Rachmaninov in its melancholy. A second theme is introduced that is brighter in mood. The piano accompaniment is rather simple for Rachmaninov in both themes, though a bit more colorful in the alternate melody. The main theme returns to close the piece. The "Danse Orientale" opens with a decidedly exotic theme, quite Middle Eastern in flavor. Here "orientale" perhaps served as a catchall for "exotic," as well. Indeed, some of the cello and piano writing sounds close to Gypsy music at times. In any event, a fast middle section goes back to the world of early Rachmaninov, and the contrast is most effective. The main theme returns in the cello's upper ranges, supported by playful, colorful accompaniment on the piano. Another restatement of the main theme is given to conclude the work. Once again, the demands on the pianist are relatively light throughout. In the end, both pieces must be judged fine representations of early Rachmaninov. A typical performance of the "Prelude" lasts about four minutes. The "Danse Orientale" would have a duration of around six to seven minutes.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Prelude in F major (from: Prelude for piano of 1891)
    2. Oriental Dance in A minor

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Decca
    2017 Bion Tsang BHM 001
    2016 Hungaroton HCD 32741
    2014 Decca 4786765
    2013 Oehms Classics OC 426
    2013 Hyperion CDH 55431
    2012 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 044
    2009 Haenssler 93245
    2005 Resonance 3035
    2005 Erato
    2005 Erato / Virgin Classics 4820672
    2005 Virgin Classics
    2004 Chandos 10095
    2003 Hyperion 67376
    2003 Decca
    2003 Decca 4738072
    2000 Caprice Records 21643
    2000 EtCetera Records 1162
    2000 Hyperion 67178
    2000 Black Box Classics 1044
    1999 Naxos 550987
    1996 Virgin Classics 45119
    1993 ASV 6072
    Classical Records 016
    Anthony Elliott
    London 414340
    Manu Music Productions 1426