So, after impatiently waiting to see if the post would deliver the magazine at my new address, there it was, right in my hands!
In order to avoid any subjective ranking of articles, I will discuss them in the order they are to be found in the magazine.
All those who know a little bit of Rachmaninoff's music are aware about his attempts of breaking out of his original romantic mainstream. In my oppinion at least, classifying him as a romantic is not entirely, but consistently wrong. And those recollections of Joseph Yasser are just one more argument for this.
I had no idea about how much he was preoccupied, at least during his American exile, by the new theoretical ideas that were emerging. And, as the article points out, we cannot help wondering what it would have been like, had he decided to cross the line in a larger proportion. He started out courageously with the 4th Piano Concerto but, as it was logically to be expected, the shock was too intense for a non suspecting audience. So he backed up a little bit concerning "modernism", only to reemerge with the purely distilled Symphonic Dances.
Of course all opuses between 40 and 45 bear specific signs of modernism, which were never seen before in his music. Reading the article it all makes more sense, as we find out that, in spite of his anti-modern official position he was actually quite drawn to new musical horizons. He also had the example of Skriabin who, in his well known oppinion, had started out well but "got lost" on the way - maybe he was trying to avoind anything similar happeneing to him? Well, theory is one thing; actual music is the one that counts. And he surely knew how to adapt his purely romantic background to the realities of the 20th Century.
The second article is a deep insight on the creative lapse of 1917 - 1926. This article actually appealed to me very much, since it clearly points out that this lapse was not a Hollywood-like sentimental disaster following the moment of exile, but a logical consequence of a multitude of factors. Maybe us, listeners, had only to gain out of this. After the 1st Symphony failure, he came back in a different and more personal way. After that big 9 years lapse, he reached a level of deepness and "simple complexity" that would have been impossible to get provided he would have continued composing continuously. I also had no idea that the 4th Piano Concerto was actually started out as early as 1914 (in my mind it was a 1917 "seed"). God knows how many and in what altered form the ideas of 1915 emerged in 1926... Anyway, here is another occasion for me to shout out: people, listen to the original 1926 version of this concert!
Well, we all knew Bells II was about to focus on op. 43. But here we got a real treat: an analyze of ALL variations - Chopin, Corelli (well, not Corelli but an old Portugese? theme...) AND Paganini. So, apart from remembering important aspects that lay beyond opuses 42 and 43, I am SO glad that someone drew the attention on the Chopin variations, for the only and simple reason that they are so forgotten! (Here I can't help suggesting a 1st Piano Sonata article in one of the future numbers.)
What I didn't expect was the part dedicated to the ballet Paganini, and everything there was new and exciting for me to find out.
I'll try to stop here - I want you all to spend time reading The Bells, not my post. But we can definitely start out interesting topics here on the forum, about some of the facts that we are presented in the magazine.
Oh, and let's not forget the photos...
In the one from when Senar was being built, in the lower right corner we can spot a track of an improvised railway. Well, what about this "mistery"?...
"Bad" thing: Bells II can be read in a single afternoon...