"Tchaikovsky's sudden death, in November 1893, was a great blow to me," Russian-born composer Sergei Rachmaninoff wrote in his Recollections. "I lost not only a fatherly friend who had set me an example as a musician, which, consciously and unconsciously, I had always followed, but also a helpful and energetic patron of my young but steadily growing musical activities, a loyal supporter and faithful adviser who I needed badly for my first faltering steps in the world of music."
At the time Rachmaminoff recalls here, at age 20 he was only a year out of the Moscow Conservatory. He had already composed the Prelude in C-sharp Minor, which would carry his name around the world. But had Tchaikovsky lived , Rachmaninoff's growing fame might have increased beyond all bounds. The death of the younger composer's mentor was a shock, and in response Rachmaninoff wrote his Trio Elegiaque, for piano, violin and cello, celebrating the memory of Tchaikovsky, just as Tchaikovsky had paid homage to his mentor, the pianist Nicholas Rubinstein, in his Piano Trio in A minor, twelve years earlier, in 1881.
The Elegiac trio, written while Rachmaninoff was "tormented and sick at heart," spills over with the honest sentiments of youth. But if he was a master of the piano, he still often misjudged the capabilities of other instruments. Two revisions, in 1907 and 1917, made the trio more compact but did not solve its central problem, its unsuitability to chamber music forces.
Virtuoso pianist Alan Kogosowski has gone to the heart of the matter, following the text of the 1893 trio and recasting the work for piano and orchestra. For the most part, he has taken the piano part verbatim, except where it seemed that this was more orchestral than pianistic. In these instances he has assigned the piano's lines to the orchestra, with the piano itself contributing decorative filigree. The orchestrator and pianist has provided the following comments on the trio's three movements:
"Throughout the work Rachmaninoff employed sounds that became hallmarks of his later works. The first movement echos the chant of the Russian Orthodox Church and the ringing of bells, together with other musical imagery which we associate the composer's musical evocations of Russia, and this required all the resources and colours of the full orchestra."
"The second movement, full of the spirit of Russian mysticism and a sense of distance, demanded special use of the woodwinds, along with individual orchestral effects."
"The final movement brings the work to a powerful conclusion, returning to the opening elegiac theme in a characteristically symphonic manner."
"The new setting of the music allows full scope to the virtuoso role intended by Rachmaninoff for the piano in this moving elegy for his friend.''
Kogosowski's orchestration was recorded by Neeme Järvi and the Detroit Symphony. The record was named Best Recording of the Year in 1994 by the American Record Guide.
Here are a few sample tracks from the album that you will enjoy: