Renowned classical composer and pianist Anton Batagov performs his iconic piano cycle / album Selected Letters of Sergei Rachmaninoff. It was written, premiered and released in 2013. It caused a sensation. Numerous musicological articles and even dissertations have been written about it. It has deeply influenced many artists. Now it is considered to be a contemporary Russian classic.
In October 2012 I visited Rachmaninoff's grave. He is buried at Kensico Cemetery in the hamlet of Valhalla, half an hour’s ride from New York City. A great musician who heard the universe as a powerful, boundless space resounding with the sounds of bells at once both tragic and triumphant, Rachmaninoff left Russia and became a part of a completely different world…
As I stood at his grave, I found this space resonating within me. When I returned home, I began writing a piano cycle.
In this cycle, Rachmaninoff writes letters to postmodern composers. Rachmaninoff himself was an anti-modernist. He was not a revolutionary, was never "ahead of his time," and was unafraid of looking old-fashioned. At first glance, it would seem that he bore no influence on late 20th/early 21st century composers. Nonetheless, his invisible, magical presence can in fact be heard in the music of some composers, including so-called "contemporary classical" composers and rock musicians. Likewise, when I hear Rachmaninoff's endless melodies that evolve from a very short motive of literally two or three notes, the word "minimalism" all but rolls off my tongue…
ANTON BATAGOV - Selected Letters of Sergei Rachmaninoff
1 At the Grave of Sergei Rachmaninoff (Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, NY)
2 Letter from Sergei Rachmaninoff to Simeon ten Holt
3 Letter from Sergei Rachmaninoff to Peter Gabriel
4 Letter from Sergei Rachmaninoff to Arvo Pärt
5 Letter from Sergei Rachmaninoff to Ludovico Einaudi
6 Letter from Sergei Rachmaninoff to Philip Glass
7 Letter from Sergei Rachmaninoff to Wim Mertens and Niccolo Paganini
8 Letter from Sergei Rachmaninoff to Brian Eno
9 Letter from Sergei Rachmaninoff to Vladimir Martynov
10 At the Grave of Sergei Rachmaninoff. Postlude