Russia's bid to get Rachmaninoff's remains moved from a cemetery in Valhalla, NY to Moscow caused a stir this summer, after the composer's family balked at the idea. That makes this nostalgia-laced recording by the U.S.-based Armenian pianist Raffi Besalyan particularly timely. It features Rachmaninoff's B-Minor Prelude, a piece that was inspired by "The Return," an allegorical painting by Arnold Böcklin. Although it was composed before Rachmaninoff's emigration to the U.S. in 1917, the work was said to be a constant companion in his exile, a favorite for his own recitals and a reminder of his years in Russia. The album also features the folk-flavored music of Moscow-based Armenian composer Arno Babajanian, which similarly recalls a distant homeland.
"The Return" is the New and Noteworthy Release on WQXR New York