Elegie in E minor, Op. 3 No. 1
The piano and orchestral music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) remain concert and recording staples, but he also composed a large body of vocal music, including over 80 solo songs. “Vocalise” is the last of a group of 14 songs written in 1912. As the title suggests, it is without words, thus lending itself readily to instrumental versions, beginning with the composer’s own adaptations for orchestra (with and without solo piano). Even had it a text, however, the haunting, achingly soulful melody would doubtless have been eagerly appropriated by all the solo instruments that now have arrangements. The more conventionally passionate Élégie is the first of Rachmaninoff’s Op. 3 Morceaux de fantasie from 1892, originally for solo piano.