Sergey Rachmaninov

Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44

    Description by Sol Louis Siegel

    Rachmaninov composed his Third Symphony at his summer house on Lake Lucerne during the summers of 1935 and 1936, after the triumph of his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini had restored him to favor as a composer. After the symphony's 1937 premiere at the hands of Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra (which Rachmaninov himself would conduct in the work's first recording two years later), the composer wrote, "It was played wonderfully. Both audience and critics responded sourly. Personally, I'm firmly convinced that this is a good work."

    The first movement opens Lento as the saxophone introduces a motif that will take new forms throughout the work. Then the strings rise to usher in the main Allegro moderato in straightforward sonata form. A plaintive Russian folklike theme, introduced by oboes and bassoons, is juxtaposed with a great flowing melody in the strings. The development is so agitated that this melody seems even more sweetly nostalgic on its return in the recapitulation; the movement ends with the opening motif echoing unquietly in the lower strings. The second movement (Adagio ma non troppo -- Allegro vivace) combines the usual slow movement and scherzo. A solo horn over the harp states the motif in a new form, which mutates into an aching, yearning theme introduced by the solo violin. This violin theme is developed at length, alternating legato strings and soulful passages for the solo instruments. The brisk, even angry middle section recalls Mussorgsky, or even Stravinsky, as much as Tchaikovsky; the Adagio theme on its return reaches a great climax before sinking into repose. The finale (Allegro) opens with a confident and energetic theme. This is alternated with episodes that are variously nostalgic, fantastic, or downright grotesque, with increasingly aggressive and acerbic harmonies -- and yes, the Dies Irae turns up. But in the end the main theme emerges triumphantly, its forward momentum sweeping all before it.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Lento - Allegro moderato - Allegro
    2. Adagio ma non troppo - Allegro
    3. Allegro - Allegro vivace

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 SWR Music SWR 19050CD
    2018 Chandos CHAN 20088
    2018 LSO Live LSO 0816
    2018 Eloquence
    2018 Signum Classics SIGCD 540
    2018 Dreyer-Gaido DGCD 21105
    2018 Berliner Philharmoniker BPHR 180221
    2016 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 13037
    2016 London Philharmonic Orchestra LPO 0088
    2016 Oehms Classics OC 442
    2015 Erato 552769
    2015 LSO / LSO Live LSO 0779
    2015 Alto / Musical Concepts MCSCD 6005
    2014 Guild / Guild Historical GHCD 2423
    2014 Warner Classics 2564627827
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 4793631
    2014 Decca 4786765
    2013 Entertainment Group 14163
    2013 Melodiya MYD 1002090
    2013 Dutton Digital / Dutton Laboratories CDVS 1921
    2013 Naxos 8573051
    2013 Decca 4785093
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099967901920
    2012 The Entertainment Group 107464
    2011 Chandos CHAN 10677
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779505
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Exton 00018
    2010 Newton Classics 8802021
    2010 Regis Records 1353
    2010 Decca / London 4331812
    2010 Newton / Newton Classics 8802024
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 445590
    2008 Svetlanov 4981
    2008 LPO 36
    2008 Alto 1030
    2007 BIS 1665/66
    2007 EMI Classics
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950088
    2007 BBC Legends / BBC Music 42072
    2006 Exton 00156
    2006 Decca
    2006 RCA 67892
    2005 Erato
    2005 Silverline Records 284212
    2005 EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    2005 EMI Classics
    2004 Artone 222344
    2004 Silverline Records 288242
    2004 Chandos 10234
    2004 EMI Classics 62810
    2004 Moscow Studio Archives 20003
    2003 Rca Red Seal 74321 88679-2
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 Nimbus 5344
    2003 History 45515
    2002 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243575510
    2002 Capriccio Records 51108
    2002 BIS 1299
    2002 Decca 468490
    2001 History 205259
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 66759
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 74280
    2001 Warner Classics
    2001 Naxos 8 505177
    2000 Chandos 9802
    1998 Russian Revelation 10004
    1998 London 455798
    1998 Nimbus 1761
    1998 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 457598
    1998 Naxos 550808
    1998 Lys 382
    1997 London 448116
    1997 Point Classics 265037
    1997 Sony Music Distribution 63257
    1996 RCA 62532
    1996 Melodiya 40064
    1994 Philips 438724
    1994 Telarc Distribution 80331
    1993 Russian Disc 10011
    1993 Virgin / Virgin Classics 59279
    1993 EMI Music Distribution 754877-2
    1993 EMI Music Distribution 64530
    1992 Vox 5034
    1992 Chandos 8614
    1992 RCA 61265
    History 204554
    History 205263
    RCA Victor 7902
    CBS Records 45678
    Pearl 9414
    Melodiya 1000143
    Aurophon Records 31463
    Virgin 59549
    Warner Music
    Virgin 562037
    Virgin 790832
    London 410231
    Masters of the Millennium 2085
    Boheme Music GOL05
    Classical Records 002