Often regarded as the last colossus of Russian romanticism, Sergei Rachmaninov enjoyed an unparalleled career as a composer, conductor, virtuoso pianist, and recording artist. A student of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, his output contains some of the seminal works of the early twentieth century, including Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1934), and the Symphonic Dances (1940).
Written in 1896 to words by Alexei Apukhtin, Rachmaninov dedicated the eighth of his Twelve Romances, Op. 14 to Nadezhda Alexandrovea, a gypsy singer whose formidable mezzo-soprano was perfectly suited to this song. The work is reminiscent of the lyrical romances of Tchaikovsky, and one of several that Rachmaninov wrote which interpret a woman’s gift to comfort and console.