When Bach met Rachmaninov

I have probably raved about Gabriela Montero before. An exquisite concert pianist with a tremendous gift for improvisation. Hope to catch her in concert one day.

Here she improvises on the enigmatic opening of the Rach III in Baroque style. It’s an old video but the music is just so unaffectedly resplendent that probably more people should hear it. It’s as if Bach and Rachmaninov met one day and went for a jam in musical splendour.


5 thoughts on “When Bach met Rachmaninov

  1. jem

    enjoyed that. i see Gabriela performs in germany often so will try to catch her the next time she comes near. I barely listen to modern classical pianists – anyone else you care to recommend? there was a time when I was mad about Van Cliburn but that was ages ago

    i spoke to ryan yesterday. very effervescent

    1. plumerainbow Post author

      Apart from Gabriela Montero, some of the other living classical pianists that I like are Stephen Hough (who also writes eruditely), Arnaldo Cohen and Idil Biret.

      But if you haven’t already heard her, you must: Martha Argerich. Don’t think she records or performs solo any more though there are many of her recordings. She headlines the festival in Lugano yearly which I would go for if I were spending summer holidays in Switzerland. And to digress a bit, another festival I’d go for in Switzerland is the Lucerne festival.

  2. jem

    I was thinking of Cliburn’s take on Rachmaninoff preludes, esp in G, no. 5 and 12. Good thinking music. I need good thinking music this summer that will boost, not hinder or distract, thought processes. Any recommendations?

    I live in an area with very rich classical music traditions. If you can imagine a town a third the size of Kluang, which has its own theatre where Liszt, Paganini, Wagner were the composers in residence. The closest major city (and airport) about an hour away had as its conductors and composers in residence, Bach, Schumann, Mahler, Mendelssohn and Nikisch.

    A classical music lover would enjoy constructing a itinerary between here and Vienna

  3. plumerainbow Post author

    Rachmaninov’s Preludes are definitely treasures of the late-Romantic piano repertoire.

    Music recommendations are hard, as each individual listener experiences something that is less precise than words.

    If you mean music to listen to while thinking about something else other music, I have none to recommend – I find it difficult to work while listening to classical music.

    I do find myself working/thinking best when I am uplifted. And there are many, many music that can do that for me in different ways. I will just limit this list to (1) non-programmatic music for its abstract quality; (2) solo works because it may be a little less distracting; (3) piano/keyboard because it’s a great solo instrument. And also because I’m slightly biased (there are some great guitar, violin and cello solo classical works); (4) 3 broad groups because that’s already more than enough.

    Beethoven’s 32 sonatas. Of them, the Hammerklavier no. 9 in B flat feels timeless & the most contemporary to me. It’s as if the music has just been written whenever I listen to it. Requires repeated listening.

    Bach’s Toccatas. Currently mad about BWV 911.

    Cesar Franck’s Prelude, Choral and Fugue. To me, this piece encompasses an entire spectrum ranging from a contemplative inner landscape to worldliness & sensuality. Also requires repeated listening.

    I believe the best music are those that sound good even if an amateur plays it. So no particular recording recommendation.


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