Classical The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. Wed, 16 Oct 2019 15:17:37 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Horowitz Plays Rachmaninoff (1989) Horowitz Plays Rachmaninoff (1989)

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1. Sonata No. 2, Op. 36 In B Flat Minor: Allegro agitato	9:41	
2. Sonata No. 2, Op. 36 In B-Flat Minor/Non Allegro; Lento	6:11
3. Sonata No. 2, Op. 36 in B-Flat Minor/L'istesso Tempo; Allegro Molto	6:12	
4. Moment Musicale, Op. 16, No. 2 In E-Flat Minor	3:03	
5. Prelude in G, Op. 32 No. 5	3:22
6. Polka V.R.	4:18	
7. Concerto No. 3, Op. 30 In D Minor/Allegro Ma Non Tanto	15:20	
8. Concerto No. 3, Op. 30 In D Minor/Intermezzo: Adagio	9:46
9. Concerto No. 3, Op. 30 In D Minor/Finale: Alla Breve		12:11

Vladimir Horowitz - piano
RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
Fritz Reiner – conductor


Yes, Virginia, Rach 3 existed before David Helfgott and Shine. Vladimir Horowitz made a recording in 1951 that continues to be the delight and despair of every pianist, notwithstanding standard cuts and minor, nerve-induced inaccuracies. The 1980 Second Sonata is looser but no less intense than Horowitz's storied 1968 CBS version, while the short pieces ooze with sex: even the Polka! --Jed Distler,


Vladimir Horowitz made three "official" recordings of Rachmaninoff's formidable Third Concerto. There are wonderful things in the 1930 recording with Coates, but that performance was severely cut. The 1978 version with Ormandy is also marvelous in its own way, but this 1951 studio recording with Reiner is the probably Horowitz's high water mark in this piece. There are a few cuts here, but not as severe as the version with Coates or Rachmaninoff's 1939 recording with Ormandy. Reiner is a sympathetic collaborator and draws some virtuoso playing from the pickup orchestra. The recording balance favors the piano, but Horowitz dazzling virtuosity and clarity deserve to be highlighted. On the whole, this is my favorite Rachmaninoff Third on CD.

The solo pieces were recorded live later in Horowitz's career. Personally, I prefer the lithe, panther-like 1968 recording of the Rachmaninoff Sonata over this brooding version from 1980--but I wouldn't want to be without either recording. The G Major Prelude, recorded in 1977 is more lovingly played here than the more casual 1986 version recorded in Moscow. The E-Flat Minor Moment musical is electrifying in a way that could be only termed Horowitzian. Rachmaninoff's Polka was a favorite Horowitz encore, and his timing of the two "blues" chords in the coda brings a murmur of amusement from the audience. The sound here is a bit hard and airless, but a substantial improvement over the LP. This album is a must for piano lovers. --- Hank Drake,

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]]> (bluesever) Rachmaninov Sergei Fri, 19 Feb 2010 22:39:42 +0000
Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No.2 & Etudes-Tableaux [1993] Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No.2 & Etudes-Tableaux [1993]

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1. Concerto No. 2, Op. 18 in C Minor: Moderato; Allegro	Evgeny Kissin;Valery Gergiev	11:27
2. Concerto No. 2, Op. 18 in C Minor: Adagio sostenuto	Evgeny Kissin;Valery Gergiev	11:50
3. Concerto No. 2, Op. 18 in C Minor: Allegro scherzando	Evgeny Kissin;Valery Gergiev	22:14
4. Études-tableaux, Op. 39: No. 1 in C Minor	Evgeny Kissin	3:35	
5. Études-tableaux, Op. 39: No. 2 in A Minor	Evgeny Kissin	6:19	
6. Études-tableaux, Op. 39: No. 4 in B Minor	Evgeny Kissin	3:29			play
7. Études-tableaux, Op. 39: No. 5 in E-Flat Minor	Evgeny Kissin	5:02	
8. Études-tableaux, Op. 39: No. 6 in A Minor	Evgeny Kissin	3:00			play
9. Études-tableaux, Op. 39: No. 9 in D	Evgeny Kissin	3:46

Evgeny Kissin – piano
London Symphony Orchestra
Valery Gergiev


Because Rachmaninoff's music mirrors the Russian culture, I have often noted that no one plays Rachmaninoff like a Russian. Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 and Etudes-Tableaux, played by the Russian Evgeny Kissin, is unparalleled in mastery, beauty, and power. The album begins with one of the most sensitive interpretations of Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto that I have heard (on par with Vladimir Ashkenazy's, a fellow Russian). Kissin understands the flow of the piece from beginning to end. As a result, he builds the tension by accentuating the rich chord progressions that fill the piece. He then resolves that tension with the precision of a story-teller and the sensitivity of a master artist. Though the music stretches the ability of even the greatest pianists, Kissin plays through the difficulty in order to paint a landscape of musical progression. He hears and invites his audience to hear the intricate sub-plots that recur all throughout the work. Perhaps Rachmaninoff's most famous composition is married with a true master artist.

The album ends with six powerful Etudes-Tableaux. Once again, Kissin hears and emphasizes both the predominant theme as well as the innumerable sub-themes, often overlooked by lesser musicians. My favorite is Etude-Tableau No. 5 in E-flat minor. This extremely difficult piece builds tension through increased dissonance until a lofty climax. That dissonance almost becomes unpleasant to the ears, creating an atmosphere of extreme melancholy. I imagine that tension mirroring the inner turmoil that an individual experiences through a difficult time of life. But when that tension and internal cacophony can get no greater and the person is at the point of breaking, grace comes! The beauty of the resolution is far more beautiful against such a dark backdrop. And any person who has been through difficulties can fully enter into the emotion of the music. And anybody who is currently experiencing pain and suffering can take hope, even from this music, that resolution will come. ---Joseph W. Hyink,


This was the first recording that I'd heard of Kissin's playing. Once I was over the amazement to the fact that he was a mere 16 years old when he recorded this, only then could I critique the performance and interpretation of these wonderful and extremely difficult works. That said - the true gems on this recording are the Etudes-Tableaux. Technically and interpretively excellent, he does wonderfully at expressing Rachmaninoffs picturesque miniatures. I've not yet heard a better recording of the #1 Etude in C-minor.To top off , the piano that he is playing on is exceptional; same quality of the pianos played by Rachmaninoff and Horowitz from the 1940's(back when Steinway "made them like they used to").The concerto leaves much to be desired.Kissin's playing is good but I don't care for some of the tempos that they use and the sound quality (mixing) is definetely lacking - particularly where the piano is concerned; too much echo.Buy this CD for the Etudes; these are among Rachmaninoff's finest works for solo piano and young Mr. Kissin does an enjoyable rendition of them; one that I think even Rachmaninoff himself could be pleased with. ---atv,

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]]> (bluesever) Rachmaninov Sergei Thu, 15 Sep 2011 18:46:00 +0000
Rachmaninoff - Piano Concertos Nos.4 & 1 and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (2003) Rachmaninoff - Piano Concertos Nos.4 & 1 and Rhapsody (2003)

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Piano Concerto No.4 in g minor Op.40
1. Allegro
2. Largo
3. Allegro vivace

Piano Concerto No.1 in f-sharp minor Op.1
4. Vivace
5. Andante
6. Allegro vivace

7. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op.43

Earl Wild – piano
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Jascha Horenstein – conductor

Recorded on May 20 & June 2, 1965
in London, England


Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40 is a music piece by Russian composter Sergei Rachmaninoff, completed in 1926. The work currently exists in three versions. Following its unsuccessful premiere he made cuts and other amendments before publishing it in 1928. With continued lack of success, he withdrew the work, eventually revising and republishing it in 1941. The original manuscript version was released in 2000 by the Rachmaninoff Estate to be published and recorded. The work is dedicated to Nikolai Medtner, who in turn dedicated his Second Piano Concerto to Rachmaninoff.

The concerto is probably the least known of all Rachmaninoff's piano concertos, but it is frequently performed in Russia. There may be several reasons for this. The structure was criticized for being amorphous and difficult to grasp on a single hearing. Only the second movement (Largo) contains a prominent melody, while the external movements seem to be composed mainly of virtuosic piano runs and cadenzas. Like most of Rachmaninoff's late works, the concerto has a daring chromaticism and a distinctive jazzy quality.


Sergei Rachmaninoff composed his Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 1, in 1892, at age 19. He dedicated the work to Alexander Siloti. He revised the work thoroughly in 1917.

This was actually Rachmaninoff's second attempt at a piano concerto. In 1889 he had begun but abandoned a concerto in C minor (the same key, incidentally, in which he would later write his Second Piano Concerto). The public was already familiar with the Second and Third Concertos before Rachmaninoff revised the First in 1917. The First is very different from his later works; in exchange for less memorable melodies, this concerto incorporates elements of youthful vivacity and impetuosity.

The differences between the 1890-1891 original and the 1917 revision reveal a tremendous amount about the composer's development in the intervening years. There is a considerable thinning of texture in the orchestral and piano parts and much material that made the original version diffuse and episodic is removed.

Of all the revisions Rachmaninoff made to various works, this one was perhaps the most successful. Using an acquired knowledge of harmony, orchestration, piano technique and musical form, he transformed an early, immature composition into a concise, spirited work. Nevertheless, he was perturbed that the revised work did not become popular with the public. He said to Albert Swan, "I have rewritten my First Concerto; it is really good now. All the youthful freshness is there, and yet it plays itself so much more easily. And nobody pays any attention. When I tell them in America that I will play the First Concerto, they do not protest, but I can see by their faces that they would prefer the Second or Third."


The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A minor, Op. 43 is a concertante work written by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It is written for solo piano and symphony orchestra, closely resembling a piano concerto. The work was written at Villa Senar, according to the score, from July 3 to August 18, 1934. Rachmaninoff himself, a noted interpreter of his own works, played the solo piano part at the piece's premiere at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 7, 1934 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski.

The piece is a set of 24 variations on the twenty-fourth and last of Niccolò Paganini's Caprices for solo violin, which has inspired works by several composers. The whole composition would take approximately 25 minutes to perform. Although Rachmaninoff's work is performed in one stretch without breaks, it can be divided into three sections, corresponding to the three movements of a concerto: up to variation 11 corresponds to the first movement, variations 12 to 18 are the equivalent of a slow movement, and the remaining variations make a finale.

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]]> (bluesever) Rachmaninov Sergei Sun, 25 Sep 2011 18:39:18 +0000
Rachmaninov - Complete Symphonies (Noseda) [2008 - 2011] Rachmaninov - Complete Symphonies (Noseda) [2008 - 2011]

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CD1 (2008)
1. The Isle of the Dead, Op. 29		20:21
2. Symphony (‘Youth Symphony’)		10:18
Symphony No. 1, Op. 13 in D Minor
3. I. Grave - Allegro ma non troppo - Moderato - Allegro vivace - L'istesso tempo - Allegro Molto 	12:32
4. II. Allegro animato - Meno mosso - Tempo I 	9:00
5. III. Larghetto - Più mosso - Largo un poco - Con moto - Tempo I	9:34
6. IV. Allegro con fuoco, Marciale (sempre marcato) - Con animo - Allegro mosso - Allegro con fuoco - Presto - Largo 	12:17

CD2 (2010)
1. Utyos (The Rock), Op. 7: The Rock, Op. 7		14:30 	
Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27
2. I. Largo		21:48 	
3. II. Allegro molto	9:59 	
4. III. Adagio - Poco piu mosso - Tempo I	14:35 	
5. IV. Allegro vivace	13:58 	

CD3 (2011)
1. Caprice bohemien, Op. 12 	17:55
2. Prince Rostislav 	14:41
Symphony No. 3, Op. 44 in A Minor
3. I Lento - Allegro moderato. Poco più mosso - Tempo precedente - Più vivo (Allegro)  16:04
4. II Adagio ma non troppo. Allegro vivace - Alla breve. L'istesso tempo 	11:47
5. III Allegro. Meno mosso - Meno mosso (Andante con moto) - Allegro - Allegro vivace 	12:47

BBC Philharmonic
Gianandrea Noseda - conductor


The first disc in Gianandrea Noseda’s Rachmaninoff’s series, Francesca da Rimini, was ‘CD of the Week’ in The Daily Telegraph, and The Times commented, ‘Noseda sculpts the brooding passions of Rachmaninoff’s dramatic score with thrilling intensity’. Noseda now turns his attention to Symphony No. 1. This work had become something of a personal quest. He decided to study the score, learning and finally performing the work. He says that he was astonished by the beauty in the melodic line, the refined harmony and controlled structure. The symphony is coupled here with the single completed movement of a symphony planned during Rachmaninoff’s conservatory years and by The Isle of the Dead, both works complementing the fluency of Symphony No. 1. Noseda will perform the First Symphony with the BBC Philharmonic at the BBC Proms in 2008, and at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester in November.


The BBC Philharmonic’s epic Rachmaninoff series continues with a recording of ‘Symphony 2’, coupled with ‘The Rock’. Unlike his first Symphony, No.2 is standard orchestral repertoire composed in a charming garden villa in Dresden where Rachmaninoff and his family had settled in late 1906. The finished product turned out to be one of the longest of all Russian symphonies. As one critic observed at the 1908 St Petersburg premiere, the new E minor Symphony … may be slightly over long for the general audience, but how fresh , how beautiful it is.’ The Symphony is coupled with the fantasia The Rock written in 1893 and is an excellent example of Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestration. After a recent concert at the Bridgewater Hall a critic commented “Noseda showed his remarkable affinity with Rachmaninoff’s style. He combines an ability to sustain the long structures of its emotional climaxes with a ‘vocalistic’ approach to phrasing which lifts the tunes out of the texture and lets them sing. It’s almost operatic in its vividness’. City Life

Under Gianandrea Noseda, the BBC Philharmonic’s epic Rachmaninoff series continues with a recording of Symphony No.2, coupled with The Rock. Unlikely his First Symphony, Symphony No.2 is standard orchestral repertoire. A recent concert at the Bridgewater Hall, elicited the review, ‘Noseda showed his remarkable affinity with Rachmaninoff’s style. He combines an ability to sustain the long structures of its emotional climaxes with a vocalistic approach to phrasing which lifts the tunes out of the texture and lefts them sing. It’s almost operatic in its vividness.’ City Life.

The challenge of making his mark with that ultimate big statement, a symphony, still faced Rachmaninoff as he headed into his mid-thirties. Posterity now accepts that he had probably cracked a tough nut with his First Symphony (CHAN 10475). Yet the 1897 premiere, poorly conducted under disputed circumstances by Glazunov, was so unfavourably received that it forced Rachmaninoff into creative silence for the next three years. Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony was drafted alongside an equally ambitious Second Piano Sonata in a charming garden villa in Dresden, where the whole family had settled in late 1906. The finished product turned out to be one of the longest of all Russian symphonies. Breadth, though, is of the essence of the Second Symphony’s wealth of lovingly wrought and subtly interlinked thematic material. As one critic observed at the 1908 St Petersburg premiere, conducted with his usual first-rate flexibility by Rachmaninoff, ‘the new E minor Symphony… may be slightly over long for the general audience, but how fresh, how beautiful it is’.

The accomplished fantasia of 1893, The Rock offers an excellent example of Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestration as acknowledged by Rachmaninoff’s original dedication.


Symphony No. 3 is the most expressly Russian of all Rachmaninoff’s symphonies, particularly in the dance rhythms of the energetic finale. It was written for the Philadelphia Orchestra and premiered by Leopold Stokowski to mixed reviews. The symphony is complemented by the rarely performed symphonic poem Prince Rostislav, an early work based on a short ballad by Alexey Tolstoy, and the equally unfamiliar Caprice bohémien, a colourful fantasy based on gypsy themes. The BBC Philharmonic is conducted by Gianandrea Noseda in this sixth volume of their Rachmaninoff series. Noseda will conduct the orchestra in an all-Rachmaninoff programme at this year’s BBC Proms.

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]]> (bluesever) Rachmaninov Sergei Fri, 05 Jul 2019 13:57:50 +0000
Rachmaninov - Francesca da Rimini (Jarvi) [2001] Rachmaninov - Francesca da Rimini (Jarvi) [2001]

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1. Prologue: Largo - Gothenburg SO/Neeme Jarvi 
2. Prologue:,Part 1: M-m.../Teper' Vstupayem Mi V Slepuyu Bezdnu - Sergei Aleksashkin/Ilya Levinsky 
3. Prologue, Part 2: A-a.../Moy Sin/Kto Eti Dva, Cto Tak Legki Dlya Vetra?/Net Boleye Velikoy Skorbi V - Sergei Aleksashkin/Ilya Levinsky/Maria Guleghina/Sergei Larin 
4. Tableau 1: Allegro Vivace - Gothenburg SO/Neeme Jarvi 
5. Tableau 1, Scene 1: Otvet Moy Prost - Sergei Leiferkus 
6. Tableau 1, Scene 2: Nicto Ne Zaglusit Revnivikh Dum/O, Yesli Bi Ti Znala - Sergei Leiferkus 
7. Tableau 1, Scene 3: Moy Povelitel Zval Menya?/Lyubvi Tvoyey Khocu Ya!/Proklyat'ye! - Maria Guleghina/Sergei Leiferkus 
8. Tableau 2: Moderato - Allegro Vivace - Gothenburg SO/Neeme Jarvi
9. Tableau 2, Scene 1: Prekasnaya Ginevra/Kak Dumayes, Franceska/O, Kak Im Bilo Sladostno I Zutko/... - Sergei Larin/Maria Guleghina/Sergei Leiferkus 
10. Epilogue: A-a.../O, V Etot Den' Mi Bol Se Ne Citali! - Maria Guleghina/Sergei Larin

Lanceotto Malatesta - Sergei Leiferkus (baritone)
Paolo – Sergei Larkin (tenor)
Virgil's Shade - Sergei Aleksashkin (baritone)
Francesca - Maria Guleghina  (soprano)
Dante – Ilya Levinsky (tenor)
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Neemi Jarvi - conductor


The idea of writing an opera about Francesca da Rimini was suggested to Rachmaninoff by Modest Tchaikovsky, brother of the more famous Pytor Illych Tchaikovsky whose orchestral work based on the same Dante passage is perhaps better known. Originally conceived as a full-length work with a libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky, its genesis was interrupted when Rachmaninoff was appointed conductor at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and saw the opportunity to put on another opera he had started work on, The Miserly Knight. As The Miserly Knight was a one-act opera, Rachmaninoff needed to present a piece of similar length alongside it, to form a double bill.

Accordingly, the original plans for Francesca da Rimini were dramatically scaled down in order to allow it to perform this function. Originally, the role of Lanceotto was intended for the great Fyodor Chaliapin, which naturally led to the inclusion of more music and text for this character than there otherwise might have been, although in the event the role was not sung by Chaliapin. In consequence of these two factors, the resulting work is curiously unbalanced, which possibly explains why staged productions of this opera are few and far between, and this in turn has led to the number of recordings in the catalogue being rather limited. However, operas which do not succeed on the stage can often be enjoyed more easily on disc, and Francesca da Rimini, which has something of the feel of an orchestral tone poem with voices, falls into this category. ---

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]]> (bluesever) Rachmaninov Sergei Sun, 25 Oct 2009 16:47:04 +0000
Rachmaninov - Liturgy of St John Chrysostom Op 31; Hymn to the Holy Virgin (1997) Rachmaninov - Liturgy of St John Chrysostom Op 31; Hymn to the Holy Virgin (1997)

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 1. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Great Litany
 2. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Bless The Lord, O My Soul
 3. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Glory Be To The Father, The Only-Begotten Son
 4. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: In Thy Kingdom (Beatitudes)
 5. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Come, Let Us Bow
 6. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Lord, Save The Just; Thrice Holy
 7. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Song Of The Cherubim
 8. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Credo
 9. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: The Grace Of Peace
 10. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: We Sing Unto Thee
 11. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: It Is Truly Meet To Praise Thee
 12. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Lord's Prayer
 13. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Praise The Lord Unto The Highest Heavens
 14. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Blessed Is He That Cometh
 15. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Let Our Mouths Be Full Of Praise
 16. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord
 17. Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom: Glory To The Father
 18. Hymn To The Holy Virgin: Virgin, Eternally Present In Our Prayers

Moscow Academy of Choral Singing
Viktor Popov – conductor


Rachmaninov's Liturgy is less well known than his Vigil (“Vespers”), but has nevertheless gained in popularity with western choirs as a concert item in recent years, though the double-choir setting of the Lord's Prayer has always enjoyed a certain renown, often being sung in an English paraphrase. It is far more than a mere sketch for the more famous work, too, though the links are clear - anyone hearing the opening psalm, “Blagoslovi, dushe moya”, for the first time will immediately make the connection. The Flemish Radio Choir's rendition is very fine indeed, reverent, well paced and at the same time electrically atmospheric (and also including sufficient of the celebrant's petitions that it comes across neither as an artificial celebration nor a concert suite) and the magnificent SACD sound is just what such a riveting performance merits. The only criticism I would make is of their very light “l” sound, which truly gives them away as non-Russians.


Composed in 1910, but only reconstructed from parts as late as the 1980s, after a long period of obscurity, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is one of Sergey Rachmaninov's most profoundly moving choral works, as well as one of his most harmonically rich and sonically radiant compositions. This setting of the Liturgy, along with Rachmaninov's Vespers and other sacred pieces, enjoyed a significant revival in the 1990s during the general awakening of interest in religious music for meditative listening, and their popularity has continued through periodic releases of first-rate recordings. ---Blair Sanderson, AllMusic Review

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]]> (bluesever) Rachmaninov Sergei Mon, 10 Apr 2017 14:37:56 +0000
Rachmaninov - Melodies (1993) Rachmaninov - Melodies (1993)

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1. Reponse - Op. 21 No. 4
2. Chanson georgienne - Op. 4 No. 4
3. Les Lilas (The Lilacs) - Op 21 No. 5
4. Ne me regrette pas (I regret nothing) - Op. 14 No. 8 play
5. Le Tempete (The Storm) - Op. 34, No. 3
6. Aux enfants (To the children) - op. 26, No. 7
7. Le Christ renait (Christ is Risen) - Op. 26, No. 6
8. Dans mon jardin je vois - Op. 26, No. 10
9. Lorsque la nuit m'entoure - Op. 4 No. 3
10. Vocalise - Op. 34, No. 14
11. Tout est si beau - Op. 21, No. 7
12. Un fragment d'Alfred de Musset - Op. 21 No. 6
13. Arion - Op. 34, No. 5
14. Ce jour d'extase - (This Day of Ecstasy) Op. 34 No. 10
15. Bles dores, moisson vaste - Op. 4 No. 5
16. Une brise passe - Op. 34 No. 4
17. Les eaux du printemps - Op. 14 No. 11

Tcherepnine - Songs
18. Le fac du Taar, Op. 16 No. 3 / 2 Legendes mystiques, Op. 50 play
19. Trois Tombeaux
20. Mere solitude
21. Le Bouleau, Op. 33 No. 14
22. Chant d'automne, Op. 7 No. 1
23. La bougie s'est éteinte, Op.21 No. 3

Nicolai Gedda – tenor
Alexis Weissenberg – piano


This one was one of the most original reissues in EMI's mid-price Studio line from the late 1980s and early 1990s : the songs of Rachmaninoff are not the most noted part of his output. As for Tcherepnin, you need to delve deep into the liner notes to find out which one it is : father and Russian (then French-emigre) Romantic Nicolai (1873-1945) or French- then US emigre and more modernist son Alexander (1899-1977). Seing who plays the piano - Alexander - I was in fact led into thinking that it was his compositions. Wrong shot : they are dad's (the original LP, EMI C065 14028, also included songs of Alexander). Anyway, father or son, their respective output is all but unknown, except by specialists of the off-the-beaten track.

Rachmaninoff's songs are all you expect of that composer: arch-romantic, mostly salon-like, plangent, sentimental - even if you don't speak Russian, you hear lots of « lyubyu » and derivations, and there are at least three words that every amateur of Russian opera will know even when they don't know a word of Russian : boje (God), smert (death) and lyubyu (love) ; and what other words do you need to know to master any language ? Occasionally they will rise to the desperately vehement (track 9 In the Silence of the Night, track 12 Fragment of Altered De Musset, track 15 The Harvest of Sorrow after Tolstoy) or the dramatic and heroic (track 5 The Storm on a Pushkin poem, track 13 Arion, track 17 The Floods of Spring). And you don't usually hear the Vocalise op 34/14 (track 10) sung by a tenor, although it is, indeed, specifically written for soprano or tenor. At its best the piano writing is in the league with the best piano writing of Rachmaninoff, that from the Preludes, Sonatas, Etudes-Tableaux. At its not so best it is Russian salon-like and sentimental.

Swedish-born but Russian-raised Nicolai Gedda (« born in Stockholm to a Swedish mother and a half-Russian father, Gedda was raised by his aunt Olga Gedda and his adoptive father Mihail Ustinov (a distant relative of Peter Ustinov), who sang bass in the Don Cossack Choir Serge Jaroff and was cantor in a Russian Orthodox church" says the invaluable people's-processed and free except for those who donate internet encyclopedia) sounds arch-genuine Russian to me and sings valiantly, with exquisitely controlled pianissimo head voice in the higher reaches (Walter Legge was impressed by it in the final upward scale of Carmen's Flower song when he first auditioned the unknown young singer in Stockholm in 1948) and benefits from the outstanding and star-studded support of Bulgarian Alexis Weissenberg (in Rachmaninoff) and Alexander Tcherepnin. ---Discophage

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]]> (bluesever) Rachmaninov Sergei Thu, 07 Apr 2011 19:26:00 +0000
Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No.3 (Ashkenazy, Haitink) [1986] Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No.3 (Ashkenazy, Haitink) [1986]

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1.  I.Allegro ma non tanto	17:31
2.  II.Intermezzo: Adagio	11:31
3.  III.Finale: Alla breve		14:26

Vladimir Ashkenazy – piano
Concertgebouw Orchestra
Bernard Haitink – conductor


Ashkenazy long ago reached the stage where he can control and shape every nuance in this teeming piano part and keep poetry and structure in a satisfying balance. Some of his phrasing is uniquely beguiling—the swooning surge into fig. 4 is one of a host of treasurable details on [this] recording and it is typical of his sensitivity to emotional ebb and flow. He has always had a special insight into the long plateau before the final peroration, and the spaciousness of the recording emphasizes how beautifully he floats the tone in lyrical passages and how intelligently he withdraws to let the orchestral contribution through.

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]]> (bluesever) Rachmaninov Sergei Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:48:44 +0000
Rachmaninov - Piano Concertos 1 & 2 (Valentina Lisitsa) [2013] Rachmaninov - Piano Concertos 1 & 2 (Valentina Lisitsa) [2013]

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Piano Concerto No.1 in F sharp minor Op.1
1. I. Vivace
2. II. Andante
3. III. Allegro vivace

Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor Op.18
4. I. Moderato
5. II. Adagio sostenuto
6. III. Allegro scherzando

Valentina Lisitsa – piano
London Symphony Orchestra
Michael Francis – conductor


Very much an artist of the twenty-first century, Ukranian-born Lisitsa secured a vast global audience purely through social media. She quickly became one of the most viewed pianists on YouTube with over fifty million million visitors to her videos.

Lisitsa made her Decca debut with Live at the Royal Albert Hall, released in July 2012 on CD and DVD. The live streaming of the recital attracted an incredible 100,000 views within a week. Signed to Decca Classics in the spring of 2012, Lisitsa has recorded all four Rachmaninov piano concertos and the Paganini Rhapsody with the London Symphony Orchestra and Michael Francis. In October 2012, Piano Concerto No.2 was exclusively released as a digital EP, a release which met with considerable success.

This was followed by digital EP releases of the individual Concertos No.3, No.4 and Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini in subsequent months, prior to the release of the complete set. Lisitsa describes the recording as arguably the most ambitious piano-orchestra project a pianist can undertake in a lifetime. The sheer variety of emotions and styles touched upon is encyclopaedic.

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]]> (bluesever) Rachmaninov Sergei Sun, 01 Sep 2013 18:32:49 +0000
Rachmaninov - Piano Concertos 3 & 4 (Valentina Lisitsa) [2013] Rachmaninov - Piano Concertos 3 & 4 (Valentina Lisitsa) [2013]

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Piano Concerto No.3 in D-Minor Op.30
1. Allegro ma non tanto
2. Intermezzo (Adagio)
3. Finale (Alla breve)

Piano Concerto No.4 in G-Minor Op.40
4. Allegro vivace (Alla breve)
5. Largo
6. Allegro vivace

Valentina Lisitsa – piano
London Symphony Orchestra
Michael Francis – conductor


The Third was completed as a major composition which Rachmaninoff would "show off" in New York in 1909 during his first concert tour of USA. He wrote the work in the peace of his family's country estate, Ivanovka, and it was completed on 23 September 190. Due to time constraints, Rachmaninoff was unable to practise it on an actual keyboard in Russia and had to do it on a silent keyboard during his voyage across the Atlantic Ocean on board a ship. The Third was dedicated to Josef Hofmann, who, though regarded by Rachmaninoff as the greatest pianist of the day, did not play the Third in his lifetime. The Third was premiered on 28 November 1909 with Rachmaninoff himself at the keyboard, joined by Symphony Society of New York at the New Theatre, New York, under Walter Damrosch. On 16 January 1910, he repeated the Third at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic under Gustav Mahler. It was reported that both great musicians had great respect and admiration for each other. --- Kar-Gee, Tan,


Far more successful (then Piano Concerto #1) is Piano Concerto #4 in G minor, Op. 40, the only concerto written by Rachmaninoff while living in the United States. The Rach 4 is considerably darker then its predecessors, using frequent syncopation and more economical part-writing. While the texture is still unquestionably Rachmaninoff's, its ideas are compacted and sometimes toe the lines of valediction. Major reasons for #4's unpopularity are its terseness and frequently changing shape, leaving it without melodies that render #2 and #3 so unforgettable. What makes #4 effective are the haunting thoughts it leaves you with rather than any particular motifs. The work is one of Rachmaninoff's most intriguing and handled aptly by the performers. --- Paul John Ramos,

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]]> (bluesever) Rachmaninov Sergei Tue, 27 Aug 2013 15:49:28 +0000