Sunday, April 1, 2012

Isle of the Dead

Detail of Island of the Dead III (1883) by Arnold Bocklin

Sergei Rachmaninoff was born on April 1, 1873.

I'm not the biggest fan of his work, but there are some memorable compositions. My favorite piece is Isle of the Dead, Op.29, a symphonic poem written in 1908. It captures the late Romantic aesthetic perfectly, with heavy orchestral sounds and a focus on the Sublime.

In my youth, I was very ambivalent about Rachmaninoff. Sometimes I would dismiss his music as "schlock" or "overweight and overwrought" or some over such insult, but, upon hearing Isle of the Dead, I noticed the artistry in the thickness of sound, the lyricism that can only emerge from lush orchestrations.

I can't say that it converted me into an enthusiast, but I looked upon his work anew, appreciating the unique vision for its own values, for its own approach to art.

So, take a mental trip on Charon's ferry across the River Styx. But don't drink of the River Lethe; you will want to remember this music. ;-)

Isle of the Dead, Op.29 (Part I)

Isle of the Dead, Op.29 (Part II)

A survey of works by Arnold Bocklin


No comments:

Post a Comment