Vladimir Ashkenazy’s prolific career continues with the completion of a project to record the piano works of Rachmaninov. The latest release on the Decca label (Decca Classics 4785346) contains the Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor and the Trio élégiaque No. 2 in D minor Op. 9. Performing with him are violinist Zsolt-Tihamér Visontay, leader of the Philharmonia Orchestra, and cellist Mats Lidstrom.
Also on the recording, Ashkenazy and Visontay perform Rachmaninov’s Vocalise from 14 Songs, opus 34 and Dream from 6 Songs, opus 38.
The Trio élégiaque No.1 was written in just four days in 1892. Rachmaninov played the piano at the première with cellist Anatoly Brandukov and violinist David Kreinthen.
Rachmaninov composed the Trio élégiaque No. 2 in November 1893, in response to hearing of the death of his mentor Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky was to have conducted Rachmaninov’s orchestral fantasy Utyos (‘The Rock’), inspired by Chekhov’s short story Na puti (‘On the Road’), but died before this plan could be realised. The trio is inspired by themes from Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A minor and is a grief-stricken tribute by the young composer to his teacher.
This year also marks fifty years of Vladimir Ashkenazy recording exclusively for Decca as a pianist. His first recording for Decca as a pianist was of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 3 in 1963 with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Anatole Fistoulari, followed shortly after by three of the Etudes-tableaux Op.39.