Op. 34, No. 14
by Sergei Rachmaninoff
arranged for piano, four-hands by Anderson & Roe
A song without words
Words are certainly unneeded in Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, originally a song for voice and piano containing no words, but rather sung using a single vowel of the singer’s choosing. Without any illustrative lyrics to convey the song’s meaning, the piece takes on a personal meaning as well as a universal expressivity: to quote critic Richard Wright, “As a metaphor for nostalgia, homesickness, and erotic yearning, nothing says it better.”
The song, with its glorious melody and lack of text, has proven to be an ideal piece for transcription: there are numerous arrangements for orchestra, chamber ensemble, choir, and solo instruments, including solo piano. In arranging this work for piano duet, we paid homage to Rachmaninoff’s indelible piano writing and to the song’s emotional intimacy and passion.
Rachmaninoff composed his “Vocalise” to be sung without any words, yet somehow the song still manages to communicate a heart-rending story. Discover what the song means to you. Perhaps it's yearning, homesickness, or something so intimate you couldn't bear to reveal it through words. In the end, the deepest emotions transcend the limitation of language, finding ultimate catharsis in waves of soaring expression.
— Greg Anderson & Elizabeth Joy Roe