The story goes like this. Sergei Taneyev, who was one of Rachmaninoff's teachers, was visiting St. Petersburg in 1896. Arensky decided to host a little dinner during his stay, and invited Taneyev, Rachmaninoff and Glazunov.
After dinner, they decided to write some music for fun. This is, after all, what composers do. So, each composer took a separate, blank page of manuscript paper. Each composer wrote the first line of music on his page. Then they passed their page to the next composer. They kept circulating each manuscript page like this until they had 4 compositions, with each line written by a different composer than the line before, and all pages having at least 4 lines on music written by different composers.
These four "improvisations" were probably never intended to be played in public. It was just a bit of fun. And actually, it is surprising that the sheets of music even survived for 110 years. Nonetheless, they did survive.
For those of you who are interested to see the music, you can view a PDF reproduction of the pages HERE
For those who would like to hear these improvisations played, it has been recorded only once, on the Toccata label. The Four Improvisations is included on a CD featuring a lot of piano music by Taneyev that has never been previously recorded. The CD includes Taneyev's Piano Concerto. You can see information about the content of the CD HERE
These improvisations are not major works, of course. Each is relatively brief. But it is interesting to see how four different composers can write music in varying styles that flows smoothly together.
Disclaimer: I have no connection with Toccata Classics. I just thought this might be of interest.
Here you can post anything regarding Rachmaninoff's music on record/cd/dvd and concert experiences
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