Sergey Rachmaninov (1873-1943) – Symphony nr. 2 in e op. 27 (1907) …….In 1907 Rachmaninov had withdrawn with his family to Dresden in order to work in complete isolation. This is where the Second Symphony was created. It had its highly successful premiere in the Marinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg in January of 1908. Like his other symphonies, the work begins with a motto-like theme reminiscent of Russian Orthodox liturgical music. Out of this a long-spun, mournful melody develops and serves as a constant motive throughout the first movement. The second movement is a lively scherzo, but there is a hint of menace in the horns introductory Dies Irae motive. Half way through the movement, the dizzying fugato is momentarily silenced for an episode of passionate romanticism. The Adagio is the most famous movement, and the most consistently described with superlatives. It is a miracle of melodic invention. The beautiful clarinet melody seems endless and appears to grope forward in a kind of trance, searching for words to express its love. Is it entirely fortuitous that the atmosphere is that of the love scene in Rachmaninovs opera, “Francesca da Rimini”? The Finales mood is stormy and once again brings forward all the previous themes, but this time arranged in new constellations, leading to an effective conclusion.