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Two-Piano Homage to Sergei Rachmaninoff At Ocean County College November 6-12


originally published: 10/24/2021

Two-Piano Homage to Sergei Rachmaninoff At Ocean County College November 6-12

(TOMS RIVER, NJ) -- “A heart of gold and arms of steel.” These words, used by legendary pianist Joseph Hoffman to describe the Russian composer and piano virtuoso Sergei Rachmaninoff, embody the purity of intention, the beauty of conception, and the mastery of pianism found in Rachmaninoff’s music. From November 6-12, Ocean County College Lecturer Brian Gilmore and community member Richard Askoff will perform an homage to Rachmaninoff featuring the three large-scale works he wrote for two pianos, each stemming from a distinct period of his life.

Performances will take place in Room A203 of the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts on the OCC main campus. Public performance dates are as follows: Saturday, November 6 at 1:00pm; Sunday, November 7 at 3:00pm; Tuesday, November 9 at 3:00pm; Thursday, November 11 at 3:00pm; and Friday, November 12 at noon.

Attendance is free – thanks to the generous support of the Frank & Lydia Bergen Foundation and The Presser Foundation – but advanced registration is required, as capacity is very limited. Please email Jaclyn Wood at jwood@ocean.edu for reservations.

Prior to each performance, Gilmore and Askoff will be available for a special pre-program discussion.

Rachmaninoff Music for Two PianosThe concept for this program evolved from the presence of two Bosendorfer Imperial Grand pianos – nine-and-a-half-foot concert grand pianos produced by one of Europe’s oldest and finest handmade piano builders – on OCC’s campus. The performance will begin with Fantasy Suite No. 1, Op. 5, a which Rachmaninoff composed at the age of 20. Written in four movements – BarcarolleA Night for LoveTears, and Russian Easter – the work is filled with a sense of overt romance and yearning characteristic of youth. Next on the program is Suite No. 2, Op. 17, considered one of the finest works ever composed for two pianos. Contemporaneous with the second piano concerto, this piece reveals a composer at the height of his mature pianistic and compositional powers. The final piece, the Symphonic Dances, Op. 45, is Rachmaninoff’s last major work. Composed in 1940, three years before his death, its three movements are conceived in a far more austere and stringent style — one which is more conservative in the volume of notes written, but extraordinarily evocative in effect.

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