(Born at Onega in the government of Novgorod,
April I, 1873)
i. Largo; allegro moderato ii. Allegro molto iii. Adagio iv. Allegro vivace
THE COMPOSITION is a long one; it lasts about an hour. The first two movements seem by far the strongest, architecturally and emotionally. The third movement seems insufferably long drawn out and sentimental. The fourth movement gains on a second hearing —has a more decided profile, and seems less episodic.
The reasons for the popularity of this symphony are not far to seek. The themes are eminently melodious, and some of them are of singular beauty; there is rich coloring; there are beautiful nuances in color; there is impressive sonority; there are frequent and sharp contrasts in sentiment, rhythm, expression; there is stirring vitality. Mr. Rachmaninoff in this symphony is romantic in the old and accustomed forms. He does not surprise or perplex by experiments in harmony; his form is essentially academic and traditional. Here is another case of new wine in old leather bottles, but first of all the bottles were put in thorough order, patched, strengthened, cleaned.