Today I went to the NY Philharmonic thinking I was going to hear Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paginini (beautiful, moving). Instead, I got Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 (staggering, spectacle!)
The program was changed because Hurricane Sandy had cut into rehearsal time (a relatively small ramification, of course - the storm has wreaked greater havoc!)
But such a welcome surprise! I had been dying to hear the Rach 3 performed live ever since I had watched the film Shine (based off of the real life story of Australian pianist David Helfgott, the man who breathed, ate, and slept the Rach 3 until it drove him mad.) As a kid learning to play the piano at the time, I admired the drive, dedication, and also obsession that young David possessed that I ashamedly lacked.
Today I heard live for the first time "those big fat chords", the "two separate melodies jousting for supremacy", and it was thrilling and astounding.
Afterwards, I came across this recording of Vladimir Horowitz playing the Rach 3 at the age of 75 (!). I love how he plays those first notes. He looks down at his hands so nonchalantly as if his hands were shelling peas.