Completed in 1940, the set of Symphonic Dances was Sergei Rachmaninov's last composition. The work is fully representative of the composer’s late style with its curious, shifting harmonies, the almost Prokofiev-like grotesquerie of the outer movements and the focus on individual instrumental tone colours throughout.
Rachmaninov composed the Symphonic Dances four years after his Third Symphony, mostly at the Honeyman Estate, ‘Orchard Point’, in Centerport, New York, overlooking Long Island Sound. The three-movement work’s original name was Fantastic Dances, with movement titles of ‘Noon’, ‘Twilight’ and ‘Midnight’. When the composer wrote to the conductor Eugene Ormandy in late August, he said that the piece was finished and needed only to be orchestrated, but the manuscript for the full score actually bears completion dates of September and October 1940. It was premiered by Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, to whom it is dedicated, on 3rd January, 1941.
This arrangement is of the last dance and is a kind of struggle between the Dies Irae theme, representing Death, and a quotation from Rachmaninov’s own Vespers (also known as the All-night Vigil, 1915), representing Resurrection. The Resurrection theme proves victorious in the end as the composer actually wrote the word ‘Hallelujah’ at the relevant place the score (one bar after Fig. 16 in this arrangement).
This arrangement can be seen being played by East London Brass, conducted by Jayne Murrill, here .
Item Code: TPBB-040
Grade: 2nd Section and above