From Russia to Beverly Hills – Jennifer Pizzuto

This week, I’ve made no less than three frustratingly pathetic attempts to blog about Rachmaninoff; for some reason, I found it ridiculously difficult to write about his music.  Although I enjoyed the performances of Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Spring (Vesna) Cantata very much, I could not easily translate my thoughts into coherent blog material (not that lack of coherency has ever stopped me from publishing blog entries before, but stay with me here).  It may have been because Serge Rachmaninoff’s music is beautiful and complex, just like the feelings that it evoked for me, and words of won’t ever be adequate.  It have been because I attempted to write portions of my blog while I was driving and, in doing so, almost wrecked my car…but it was in the name of creativity, right? 


If you have the opportunity to attend the finale of the Rachmaninoff Festival on 4/17-4/19, you certainly will not be disappointed.  The first weekend of the festival was brilliant.  I was deeply moved by the PSO’s performance of Paganini.  It was like my favorite type of coffee—bold and full-bodied.  I felt the musical caffeine pulse through my veins and indulge my surreptitious penchant for all things Russian.

To that end, I’ve always possessed an intense adoration for Rachmaninoff.  His career was precarious and complex, which is to be expected of a man who was born in Russia and died in Beverly Hills.  He must have experienced a great deal between the two extremes.  Rachmaninoff encompassed the talents of pianist/composer/conductor, and could convey the complexity of his own life via his numerous musical outlets.  His works are uniquely intricate and awe-inspiring. 


There are few musical experiences that can compare to Rachmaninoff when his music is played well; however, if the music is simply average, or worse, Rachmaninoff can be horrendously terrible, which presents a certain danger in performing it.  Not surprisingly, the PSO handled Rachmaninoff masterfully, as did the guest pianist, Simon Trpceski.  He has been dubbed by the Seattle Times as “the best thing to come out of Macedonia since Alexander the Great.”  I’ll second that—Mr. Trpceski was amazing, playing Paganini, as though it was as inherent to him as breathing.  I dare say that Rachmaninoff himself would have been very pleased.  It made me wonder what inspires such talent… 

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