Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Sergei Rachmaninoff was a Russian piano virtuoso, composer, and conductor. He started piano when he was four years old. In 1892, Rachmaninoff graduated from the Moscow Conservatory. By the time of his graduation from the conservatory, Rachmaninoff had already composed several piano and orchestral pieces. Rachmaninoff and his family left Russia in 1918 after the Russian Revolution and came to the United States. He didn’t do much composing between 1918-1943 because of a demanding touring schedule. Rachmaninoff had planned to make a career of only being a composer, but he had to provide for his family so he started touring as a pianist.
The two songs, Siren (Lilacs) and Zdes’ khorosho (How Peaceful it is here) are from Rachmaninoff’s Twelve Romances op.21. Siren (or Lilacs) was originally a song for soprano with piano accompaniment that Rachmaninoff later arranged as a solo piano piece. He recorded the solo piano version of the song on a piano roll.
Aida Garifullina (1987-)
Aida Garifullina is a Russian operatic soprano. In 2013 she won the 2013 Operalia competition. She has performed in several operatic productions at the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, and Wiener Staatsoper (the Vienna State Opera). Aida is a rising star in the operatic world.
Iain Burnside (pianist, broadcaster)
Iain Burnside is a Scottish pianist and BBC braodcaster. He specializes in song repertoire. Iain has collaborated with many singers.
Here is a clip from a Rosenblatt recital in 2014 of Aida Garifullina (soprano) and Iain Burnside (piano) performing Sirens (Lilacs) and Zdes’ khorosho (How peaceful it is here) in London, England. Rosenblatt recitals are world class recitals of opera and song presented every year in London, England.
Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Dieterich Buxtehude was a Danish-German baroque composer and organist. His organ music is a major part of the organ repertoire and is frequently performed at organ recitals and church services. His keyboard music represents the height of the 17th century North German School of organ composition. Buxtehude wrote over 100 beautiful and very expressive vocal compositions. Today Buxtehude is often thought of as a predecessor to J.S. Bach. In 1705, 20-year-old Johann Sebastian Bach walked over 200 miles to hear Buxtehude perform his music.
Bernarda Fink (1955 -) mezzo-soprano
Bernarda Fink is an Argentine mezzo-soprano. She has sung with many of the world’s top orchestras and ensembles including the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, and the English Baroque Soloists. She has worked with many of the top conductors in the world including Sir Neville Mariner, Sir John Elliot Gardiner, Riccardo Muti, Sir Colin Davis, and Valery Gergiev.
Bernard Foccroulle (1953-) organist, composer
Bernard Foccroulle is one of the top organists in the world. He is also a composer, conductor, and opera director. Bernard Foccroulle plays a wide repertoire of organ music from the Renaissance to contemporary music. As well as playing many world premieres of music by living composers, Bernard Foccroulle has performed and made many recordings of organ masterworks by composers such as Scheidemann, Weckmann, Buxtehude, and J.S. Bach.
Here is a recording of an aria by Buxtehude called the Klag-Lied: “Muss der Tod denn auch entbinden” (Must death then also break those chains). The aria was one part of a two part work written in homage to Buxtehude’s father who passed away in 1674. It is performed by Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano, and Bernard Foccroulle on the organ.