Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Sonata No. 1 Pianist – Valentina Lisitsa

I recently received a thoughtful email from a friend of mine, Elizabeth Middleton.  A pianist and composer with eight CD’s of her own music to her credit, Elizabeth wrote in part:

I am beginning to wonder whether there is so much mediocre or just plain bad music being created that people’s ability to hear is being corrupted.  It’s so sad that music education has gone by the wayside in public schools and that most classical radio stations have disappeared.  Yet, with YouTube, MySpace music profiles, Rhapsody, iTunes and other websites, there are numerous ways for people to discover and listen to good music, of different genres, on the internet.

Sergei Rachmaninoff

This video, and the one that follows, are striking examples of the great discoveries that can be found on two of the venues mentioned by Elizabeth: YouTube and classical radio.  I had never heard of Valentina Lisitsa before I discovered her on YouTube, and had never heard Rachmaninoff’s first piano sonata until I watched this video.

The first sonata is more expansive than the second, and more romantic in character.  When I first heard it, I was struck at once by its scope and power, as well as its technical demands.  I was also overjoyed to find that, even after 45 years of listening to Rachmaninoff’s music, there are still new masterpieces to discover.

This recording was made in December 2009 in Hanover, Germany.

Published in: on December 28, 2009 at 7:14 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for letting me know about this Rachmaninof’s marvellous sonata. Valentina is certainly one of those virtuosos ‘caught in the past’ and not common any more in West Europe unfortunately. Amazing how she didn’t take music seriously until a certain age because she dreamed to become a chess player instead.

    I’m sure you know the *Pascal Nemirovski’s* blog where this French pianist and pedagogue of Russian origin offers to readers many gem videos especially from the Eastern-Europe piano tradition.

    Regards, G

  2. Do you happen to know where I can obtain a print of the wonderful photo you have at the top of this post of Rachmaninoff on the concert stage? It captures the energy of performance so well.

    • I don’t know where to find a print of that photo, but here is a link to an uncropped copy.

      Best wishes,


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