Celebrating 25 Years of Excellence

Rachmaninoff Variations on a Theme of Chopin; Chopin Piano Sonatas Nos. 2 & 3


Catalogue No: SOMMCD 0679
Release Date: 2023-11-17
Number of Discs: 1
EAN/UPC: 748871067929
Composers: ,
Liner Notes

SOMM RECORDINGS is delighted to announce the return of pianist Peter Donohoe to the label following his acclaimed complete survey of Mozart’s Piano Sonatas with a dazzling new recital coupling Rachmaninoff – on the 150th anniversary of his birth in 1873 – and Chopin.

“Rachmaninoff is unimaginable without Chopin,” asserts Russian music expert Marina Frolova-Walker in authoritative booklet notes that point to Rachmaninoff’s long engagement with Chopin’s music in the concert hall and recording studio.

Donohoe’s recital explores the intricate connections between the two composers, beginning with Rachmaninoff’s Op.22 Variations on a Theme of Chopin. They embrace “a broad array of styles and genres, in a kind of theatrical quick-change routine that leaves us marvelling at the extreme contrasts in music that still embraces the same theme”.

A work Rachmaninoff played at both his graduation recital in 1892 and his last public recital, six weeks before his death in 1943, Chopin’s Second Piano Sonata (Op.35) boasts a lowering funeral march and a groundbreaking finale.

Chopin’s Third Piano Sonata (Op.58) is a work of exhilarating contrasts, intensity balanced by poetry, its high-Romantic style making formidable virtuosic demands of the piano.

Peter Donohoe’s previous SOMM releases include the widely-praised six- volume set of Mozart’s Piano Sonatas. Musical Opinion declared of Volume 1 (SOMMCD 0191) “no finer accounts of these still neglected masterpieces will have been offered to the public”. BBC Music Magazine’s five-star review of Volume 6 (SOMMCD 0660) hailed Donohoe for finding “a playing style that feels exactly right”.

His other discs include Stravinsky’s Music for Solo Piano and Piano and Orchestra with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and David Atherton (SOMMCD 266-2), “a splendid and engrossing issue” (International Piano), and Scriabin’s Complete Piano Sonatas (SOMMCD 262-2), The Guardian praising Donohoe as “a masterly guide, his playing both unearthly and earthy”.

On This Recording

Sergei Rachmaninoff

Variations on a Theme of Chopin, Op. 22 (28:57)
  1. Theme, Variations 1-10 (6:29)
  2. Variations 11-14 (6:33)
  3. Variations 15-18 (5:03)
  4. Variations 19-21 (5:01)
  5. Variation 22 (5:48)

Frédéric Chopin

Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 35 (25:31)
  1. I. Grave – Doppio movimento (8:19)
  2. II. Scherzo (6:35)
  3. III. Marche funèbre: Lento (8:53)
  4. IV. Finale: Presto (1:43)
Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58 (26:56)
  1. I. Allegro maestoso (9:29)
  2. II. Scherzo: Molto vivace (2:36)
  3. III. Largo (9:22)
  4. IV. Finale: Presto non tanto (5:27)
Peter Donohoe, piano