Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Sonata: Horowitz at Carnegie Hall, 1968

He swallowed it whole…He had the courage, the intensity, and daring that make for greatness.

This is how Sergei Rachmaninov described Vladimir Horowitz’ performance of his Third Piano Concerto- a piece so difficult to play that it even intimidated the composer. Rachmaninov and Horowitz came face to face at New York’s Steinway Hall in January, 1928. It was the violinist Fritz Kreisler who brought them together, telling the composer “some young Russian plays [the] Third Concerto and the Tchaikovsky Concerto like nothing I ever heard, and you have to meet him.” The two became live-long friends.

Here is Horowitz’ live Carnegie Hall performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Sonata No.2 in B-flat minor, op.36 from the autumn of 1968. Completed in 1914, Rachmaninov revised the Sonata in 1931. Horowitz convinced the composer to allow some restoration of the original. This hybrid version is what we hear below.

Melancholy solitude combines with demonic power and soaring passion in this piece. The second movement has to be some of the most quietly sensuous music ever written.

Recordings

  • Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No.2 in B-flat minor, op.36 Amazon
  • Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 3, Vladimir Horowitz, Eugene Ormandy, Philadelphia Orchestra (1978 recording)

Photograph by Don Hunstein: Vladimir Horowitz at Carnegie Hall

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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