February 06, 2024

Inon Barnatan on ‘Rachmaninoff Reflections’ – The New York Times

The great thing about Rachmaninoff is that he is a colorist in the way he writes for the piano. People think of it as virtuosic because it’s so hard to play, but I think he primarily uses notes as colors, the way a painter can use thousands of different colors to convey one color.

Inon Barnatan recently spoke with Joshua Barone from The New York Times in their latest interview, discussing his solo transcription of ‘Symphonic Dances’ and his album Rachmaninoff Reflections.

Do you see Rachmaninoff differently after this project?

“I’m not a composer, but having the experience of inputting every single note — thinking about every single dot and line — you really confront the meaning behind those things. You think about Rachmaninoff as a traditionalist, but there’s so much interesting harmonic language in that third movement. It just doesn’t declare itself as being revolutionary. Working on it, searching for the color in his music, made me look much more closely at his other solo piano music. I realized how rich some of those pieces are, and made me think of him more as a colorist.

I grew up having a distaste for showmanship, but nothing teaches you how to succeed in showmanship without even trying like Rachmaninoff. It teaches you how to be virtuosic and symphonic and epic without sacrificing sincerity. And Friday’s recital is a product of that, of grappling with how to be an orchestra at the same time as a piano. Not to imitate an orchestra, but to embody it.

Inon Barnatan

Read the full interview HERE.