Russian composer, pianist and conductor Sergei Rachmaninov was born in 1873. ‘Spring Waters’, the penultimate song of his opus 14 set, was composed in 1896 while he was still working on his first symphony. It is based on Fyodor Tyutchev’s poem, enthusiastically announcing the arrival of spring. Rachmaninov matches the text character with the sweeping figurations depicting the mighty force of nature, the unstoppable growth of new life, and an unabating build to a triumphal end.
“Rachmaninov’s ‘Spring Waters’ has always been one of my favourite songs by the composer. The idea of transcribing it to a solo piano piece had long been haunting my mind until the preparation of my fourth recital album, ‘Fire and Water’, in 2017. The transcription itself then came into fruition while I was finalising the track list, as the passion of the original song and the Rachmaninov-associated ‘water’ component reflects a perfect metaphorical combination between the two elements.
While I was examining the composer’s original song, I noticed that even though it was a work for voice and piano, the piano accompaniment part still played a vital and indispensable role in completing the entire musical experience. As one of the great composer-pianists, Rachmaninov’s understanding and instinct for writing piano music shone through the piano part, which supports and backs up the singing melody perfectly.
Therefore, I strongly felt and believed that my transcription should keep the originality of Rachmaninov’s writing style as much as possible, since the piano part from the original song had been so well written. During my compositional process, I always pondered how Rachmaninov would possibly write it as a solo piano piece. As one can see from this arrangement, I tried to maximise the expression of both musical parts on the keyboard by combining the singing and piano part and expanding the piece into a more pianistic and ultra-romantic work with a brilliant Rachmaninovian ending.”