1901: Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, age 28

I. Moderato (C minor)

II.Adagio sostenuto – Più animato – Tempo I (C minor → E major)

III. Allegro scherzando (E major → C minor → C major)

Instruments:

  • 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B♭ (in the first and third movements) and A (in the second and third movements), 2 bassoons
  • 4 horns in F, 2 trumpets in B♭, 3 trombones (2 tenor, 1 bass), tuba
  • timpani, bass drum, cymbals,
  • Strings:

The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, is a concerto for piano and orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff between June 1900 and April 1901. The piece established his fame as a concerto composer and is one of his most enduringly popular pieces.

Stephen Hough on an article with The Guardian posits that the composition is “his most popular, most often performed and, arguably, the most perfect structurally. It sounds as if it wrote itself, so naturally does the music flow”. Another article by John Ezard and David Ward calls it one of the “most often performed concertos in the repertoire. Its emergence – in each year so far of the new century – as the British classical listening public’s favorite tune indicates Rachmaninov’s position as perhaps the most popular mainstream composer of the last 70 years.” In 2023, the piece was voted number one in the Classic FM annual “Hall of Fame” poll, and has consistently ranked in the top three.

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