Sunday, January 22, 2012


In classical music, vocalise compostions were mostly meant as voice exercises. They contained no texts so they could be described as songs without words.  The vocalist would sing to vowel sounds in exercising their voice.

Some of these vocalise pieces have developed as concert pieces to be played in various forms: they may consist of a pianist and vocalist, or an orchestra and soloist [like violin], or sometimes as stand alone orchestra pieces.

Rachmaninoff composed such a piece that we saw performed last night at an awesome symphony concert I talked about in yesterday's post. It was the first piece of the concert before Rachmaninoff's beautiful second piano concerto played magnificently by the Russian born American pianist, Kirill Gerstein. The Jones Hall audience leaped to their feet in a thunderous ovation for Gerstein at the conclusion of the piece.

Rachmaninoff's "Vocalise" was played by the full symphony orchestra with no singer.  It has a soothing, haunting theme.  It was a nice prelude to the piano concerto. 

Here is the piece played for violin and orchestra with the great young virtuoso, Joshua Bell as soloist.

S. Rachmaninoff: Vocalise:

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