Rachmaninoff.org • Harvest of Sorrow: The Memories of Sergei Rachmaninoff
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Harvest of Sorrow: The Memories of Sergei Rachmaninoff

Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 4:44 am
by Amphissa
A documentary film about SVR will be released in the U.S. on DVD on July 31. This film was aired on the Ovation network several times during the month. It is an exceptionally well-done documentary, featuring performances of many of Rachmaninoff's best known pieces. I was really pleased to find that much of the orchestral music in the first hour is drawn from SVR's magnificent and sadly neglected First Symphony -- in this case, performed by Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra.

The film is almost autobiographical, as the story is told almost entirely in words written by Rachmaninoff in his memoirs, spoken by the late great Sir John Gielgud. Included is a segment in which SVR's grandson, Alexander Rachmaninoff, visits the estate of his grandfather for the first time, and we follow along on his tour of the home, including the room in which he composed until the time he fled Russia. The film was made with the participation of his grandson.

Here is the (rather poor) description as given on the Ovation network website:


I'm sure it will be available from many online retailers, including (in the U.S.) Amazon and Tower.

For those unfamiliar with the phrase that serves as the title, the Harvest of Sorrow refers the atrocities inflicted on the Russian peasantry by the Soviet Communist party between 1929 and 1933. And if you do not know why it was chosen as the title for this film .... well, then, you must see the film!


Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 12:55 pm
Thanks for the info, but what an odd photo of SVR....

Posted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 12:26 am
by Amphissa
There is much video footage of Rachmaninoff in the documentary. I suspect the cover picture is taken from video, not an old photograph. It is a younger Rachmaninoff on the cover than we usually see. Those video segments of Rachmaninoff in daily life are quite interesting.

SVR documentary DVD

Posted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 6:05 pm
by opus23#10
Thanks, Amphissa, for calling this DVD to our attention. I can hardly wait to get it. (Although the upcoming movie will be interesting, it may not be as factual as this DVD.)

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 3:59 am
by feworkr
Pre-ordered mine from Amazon 2 weeks ago. It should be here today or tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing it again, hopefully a little sharper than the Ovation network tape.

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 5:12 am
by feworkr
Got it! Saw it and it was (again) wonderful! Just keep your volume controller in hand as Sir John comes out way to quiet and some of the symphonic phrases come in way to loud. Be sure to click on 'Subtitles' so you get all the info. I highly recommend it!!!

Posted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 8:17 am
by mikhailp
What does he look like?? Does he play piano in it?? Does it show him in L.A.? The wonders.. :D

Harvest of Sorrows

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 1:40 am
by opus23#10
What a moving documentary! Sir John Gielgud is convincing as the voice of Rachmaninoff, and the family movies are a treasure.
The restored Ivanovka is beautiful, and Senar is breathtaking. Every devotee of SVR should have this DVD. These are some of the things I really appreciated:
1. The music is not "chopped up" into short segments to fit the changing pictures. One has a chance to hear fairly long sections. 2. The filming is clear and it moves steadily from scene to scene. It is the style now in many movies to jump from one scene to another -- losing the logical sequence. 3. The scenes with the Russian people, at a folklife festival, etc., and at Ivanovka are interesting. 4. Finally -- for someone who is unfamiliar with Russian names, I now know how to pronounce Ivanovka :!:

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 7:23 pm
by Sasha
How did I miss this??? :shock:

I'm so ordering it today!

No wonder I can't save any money.... :oops:

Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 2:55 pm
by morakeo
Anyone seen it? Impressions?

Harvest of Sorrow film

Posted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 10:57 pm
by concertoboy
I recently got this dvd and am very impressed by it. The home movie footage of Rachmaninoff and his family is wonderful. The music performances are wonderful too (quite a representative selection from his body of work. I found the text spoken by Sir John Gielgud was very amateurish - full of inconsistencies and errors which are very blatant. The text is quite laughable at times. I only bought this in order to see the old film footage of Rachmaninoff: boating, motoring, lounging around at home, enjoying meals with his family, playing with children, dancing around, being accosted by crazy females (and even sometimes doing the accosting haha). I particularly enjoyed seeing him throw a ball - I think he could have been a great pitcher! At any rate, the dvd is well worth the purchase (but I have great reservations about Tony Palmer's script, which is very disjointed and full of holes).

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 9:44 pm
by morakeo
Sound interesting. Where can I find it?

Re: Harvest of Sorrow: The Memories of Sergei Rachmaninoff

Posted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 11:06 pm
by Marianne
This film is great!
I've found it only on youtube
there you can only watch it and catch the music. Because it is in Japanese only :D
But still - the rare video, extracts from the recitals, so full of inspiration...
Wish they could show someday all the rare archive video in one file, not split all around the movie....

Also Gergiev - I've seen him many times conducting in the Mariinsky Theatre here in Saint-Petersburg and love to watch from the side his beautifull hands while he is conducting (they look like birds), not only his face. All the same, so gratefull, so thankfull! Great job!!!

PS Also there is one little mistake - they show SVR's hands in this way:


But Russians always wear the wedding ring on the right hand. So the photo was obviously made from this picture:


which is more correct. :D

Re: Harvest of Sorrow: The Memories of Sergei Rachmaninoff

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 8:26 am
by Daniel
Excellent Marianne!
If any of you have the 3rd volume of songs with Howard Shelley, there's also a flipped picture there on the back cover of the CD booklet...

Re: Harvest of Sorrow: The Memories of Sergei Rachmaninoff

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:37 pm
by StewH
"Harvest of Sorrow" is available on DVD from Amazon.com! :D