Sergey Rachmaninov

Vocalise, transcription for piano, Op. 34/14

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Rachmaninov wrote Vocalise for voice and piano, not setting a text to it, unlike the other songs in the Op. 34 set. It immediately became popular, and the composer fashioned several transcriptions of the work, including one for piano and another for orchestra. In a sense, the orchestral version is the better of these two, because its string-dominated scoring more effectively captures the sustained sonorities of the original. That said, Rachmaninov, a brilliant composer of piano music and virtuoso pianist himself, compensated for his instrument's non-sostenuto tone by the scaling down textures and adding pedal runs and other coloristic effects.

    Heard in any of the versions, the main theme is lovely, but here its long-breathed, soaring beauty and ecstatic sense of melancholy come across with a more straightforward and even simple expressive manner. Not that the piano sonorities are scrawny or the textures skeletal and inappropriate: indeed, the music takes well to the tender, more intimate dressing Rachmaninov deftly provides here. In the first half the music remains gentle and flowing, but around the midpoint turns intense and more passionate, developing a strong sense of yearning, almost of anger. The main theme returns in much the same intimate mood it appeared in at the opening and closes out this lovely work.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2019 Lyrita SRCD 2373
    2019 Lyrita SRCD 381
    2018 Steinway & Sons STNS 30082
    2017 Gramola GRAM 99131
    2017 Nimbus Records NI 5965
    2016 Piano Classics PCL 0102
    2016 Signum Classics SIGCD 439
    2016 First Impression Music 97
    2016 FC Records FCRCD 9704
    2016 Erato 0190295954697
    2015 Warner Classics 0825646052400
    2015 Sounds True JL 03976D
    2015 RCA Red Seal 88875108012
    2014 Decca
    2014 Sony Classical G010003051941C
    2014 Sony Classical 88883796882
    2014 Three Oranges Recordings
    2014 Three Oranges Recordings 3OR 10
    2014 Piano Classics PCLD 0065
    2014 Warner Classics 2564627827
    2014 Decca
    2014 Decca 4786348
    2014 Decca 4786765
    2014 Avie AVR 2261
    2013 Entertainment Group 14160
    2013 Entertainment Group 14163
    2013 Entertainment Group 14164
    2013 Sounds True JL 03918D
    2012 Decca
    2012 Brilliant Classics 9265
    2012 Signum Classics SIGCD 305
    2012 The Entertainment Group 107860
    2012 The Entertainment Group 107549
    2012 Et'Cetera / EtCetera Records ETC 1450
    2012 Paladino Music PMR 0031
    2011 Classics & Jazz / Universal Classics & Jazz
    2011 MSR Classics MS 1404
    2011 TwoPianists TP 1039107
    2011 Piano Classics PCL 0037
    2011 Signum Classics SIGCD 264
    2011 Alba ABCD 305
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Hyperion Knight 50138174
    2010 Centaur Records 3062
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Naxos 857808182
    2010 Camerata Records 28177
    2009 Meridian Records 84564
    2008 Dutton Vocalion / Vocalion 4369
    2007 Pierian 0031
    2007 Decca 4758548
    2006 Music Park / Music Park Inc. 001
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon 002894776195
    2006 Avanticlassic 10212
    2006 Sony Music Distribution 82876 85248-2
    2006 Big Eye Music 4405
    2005 Brilliant 92615
    2005 Moscow Studio Archives 20005
    2004 MDG 6110547
    2002 Big Eye Music 4253
    2001 Etherean Music 8804
    2001 Miami International P 1
    2001 St. Clair 7365
    2001 Philips 4689212
    2000 Castle Music Ltd. 517/5
    2000 Cleopatra 806
    2000 Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 273
    2000 RCA 63669
    2000 Naxos 8556602
    1999 Bonneville Worldwide Ent. (BWE) 9501
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 Naxos 505028
    1999 Philips 456874
    1998 Russian Revelation 10033
    1998 Intersound 1426
    1996 Aca Digital 20040
    1994 Delos 3145
    1994 Naxos 551122
    1994 Naxos 505008
    1994 Naxos 550141
    1993 Music & Arts 746
    1993 RCA 61548
    1993 Hyperion 66486
    1993 Philips 438383
    1993 Philips
    1992 Chesky Records 58
    Deutsche Grammophon 477 6525
    Somerset Entertainment 29831
    Somerset Entertainment 29832
    Arabesque 6802
    Brilliant 92615/7
    Naxos 8551122
    Gemini 608
    IMP Classics 1051
    Dell'Arte 7001
    Revelation Records 60002
    Intersound 1428
    Melodiya 1000146
    RCA Victor