Review: King’s Lynn Music Society talk on Rachmaninoff

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Lynn Town Hall was the venue for King’s Lynn Music Society’s meeting and illustrated talk on the life and music of Sergei Rachmaninoff.

The society’s members and visitors were pleased to welcome Dr John Malpass as guest speaker at their March meeting and he selected a wide range of musical excerpts demonstrating the range of Rachmaninoff’s compositions. Starting with pieces from the opera Aleko, written as a graduation piece when Rachmaninoff was aged 19, the playlist also included various songs, Cello Sonata, The Bells orchestral work as well as recordings of Rachmaninoff playing his own piano compositions.

Using these musical illustrations and photographs Dr Malpass charted the composer’s life from his childhood in Novgorod, Russia- “a wild child but a talented pianist”; his musical studies in St Petersburg and Moscow, where he was mentored by Tchaikovsky, and his later development as a composer.

Rachmaninoff was forced to leave Russia in the wake of the Russian Revolution and emigrated to America where his main focus was as a concert pianist.

To conclude the evening we heard the third movement from Rachmaninoff’s last composition, Symphonic Dances written in 1940, the work having references to many of his earlier pieces.

Dr Malpass described himself as a musical enthusiast, having been a Trustee of the Rachmaninoff Society for many years, which has since transformed into a web based Society, The Rachmaninoff Network. His enthusiasm and knowledge was evident and it made an informative and enjoyable evening.

For future Kings Lynn Music Society events see