Piano Concerto No. 3 (Rachmaninov)

Sergei Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 (colloquially known as The Rach 3) is famous for its technical and musical demands of the performer.

Following the form of what can be considered a standard concerto, the piece is in three movements:

  1. Allegro ma non tanto
  2. Intermezzo: Adagio
  3. L'istesso tempo;Finale: Alla breve

Written in the peaceful setting of his family's country estate, Ivanovka, the Third Concerto in D Minor, opus 30, was completed on the 23rd of September in 1909. Rachmaninoff wrote this piece in order to showcase his own talents not only as a composer, but as a pianist.

Evgeny Kissin once said that Rachmaninov's talents were not "virtuosity for the sake of virtuosity"; instead, they were an incredible combination of passion and musicality. The Rach 3 is feared by all pianists. Joseph Hoffman, a pianist to whom the work is dedicated, never attempted to play it, saying that it "wasn't for" him.

Due to time constraints, Rachmaninov could not practice the piece while in Russia. Instead, he took a silent keyboard with him on a ship to the US, on which he started, and finished his work on the masterpiece.

It was first performed on November 28, 1909 by the New York Symphony Society with Walter Damrosch conducting and Rachmaninov appearing as the guest artist on piano. It was first published in 1910 by Gutheil. A typical performance lasts around 45 minutes.

It was popularized by the movie Shine, which portrayed the prodigal Australian pianist David Helfgott performing "the hardest piece in the world" for a concerto competition at the Royal College of Music in England.

The best and most played recording are the Vladimir Horowitz recordings.


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