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Piano Concerto 3 Op 30

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accomplished bravura performance 13 April 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This recording was highlighted by the recently updated Penguin Guide, and deservedly so. However, there are a number of things that stop it getting 5 stars.
The highlight of this album is undoubtedly the Third Piano Concerto. Rodriguez puts in a bravura performance which, whilst fast, avoids vanishing into a stream of notes like Argerich. Indeed in the quickest passages one cannot help but wonder at the sheer lyrical quality of his playing. The orchestra, whilst not being particularly well known, provides able support throughout.
There are a couple of slightly annoying problems with the recording though; Firstly, there is a large amount of coughing heard during some of the quieter parts in the first movement. Second, at the end of the third movement, the quality of the sound changes quite a bit, I suspect that a microphone on the audience was switched on in order to record the applause, unfortunately this makes listening to the recording via headphones an ultiately flattening experience.
As for the other pieces, the Elegy is well played and draws immediate comparisons with Rachmaninov's earlier Romantic influences. However a lot of the rest of the playing is slightly wooden, this is especially so in the final B flat minor prelude - probably the most dramatic solo piano composition - which is rendered slightly heavy handedly.
In conclusion, buy it for the recording of the Piano Concerto.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worthy of the hype. 7 Aug 2010
By Stephen Grabow - Published on Amazon.com
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It's pretty hard to believe that a pianist playing with a small regional orchestra could produce one of the most beautiful recordings of Rachmaninov's 3rd piano concerto. Without the Penguin Guide Rosette 3-star recommendation, I would never have been aware of its existence. It does not disappoint. The clarity, the excitement and the poetry all combine to make this truly great -- and I'm comparing it to Horowitz/Reiner, Rachmaninov/Stokowski, Janis/Dorati, Askenazy/Fistoulari, Gieseking/Mengelberg and Wild/Horenstein. Don't be misled by the unheralded label or orchestra, it's top notch.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Live Performance with Excellent Digital Sound 19 Feb 2012
By Carl Armstrong - Published on Amazon.com
Ever since Santiago Rodriguez won the Silver Medal during the 1981 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, he has been hailed for his affinity for the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff.This particular recording, a live performance captured with stunning 20 bit Digital sound technology, was given the Penguin Classical CDs Guides highest recommendation, a Rossette, comparing him to Horowitz and William Kapell.

I have seen leading record reviewers give him a thumbs down just because of the name of the conductor, Paul Anthony McRae, but if you will listen carefully to Volodos/Levine and the Berlin Philharmonic, you will notice during the first few pages (4 through 6) of the 1st movement both piano and orchestra are out of sinc with one another (never mentioned by any critics), yet no such thing ever happens here with Rodriguez and McRae in this high voltage virtuoso performance.In fact there is a wonderful chemistry between both the soloist and conductor that put this performance far ahead of Rodriguez earlier account with Emil Tabakov and the Sofia Philharmonic. Santiago Rodriguez also has a deeper feel for every note (without sentimentality,which is exactly the way Rachmaninoff wanted it to be played according to his letters to musicologist Josef Yasser)than, Argerich, Volodos and Hough,and this electrifying performance with no cuts in the 2nd or 3rd movements (like Horowitz/Reiner), is an excellent candidate for a desert island must have.

Also on this disc are the Preludes from opus 23 no.s 2,5 & 6 and from opus 32 nos.5 & 12.Rodriguez performance of the beautiful Elegy opus 3 no.1 is also stunning and transcends criticism.If you are looking for a timeless and immortal performance of the Rach.3, this should satisfy. I have 20 recordings, and this particular one sounds just like both piano and orchestra are right in the living room, on my $90.00 Sony Stereo system (Sony MHC-EC55 Mini Hi Fi Component System).
4.0 out of 5 stars "Incredible bravura..." 5 Oct 2013
By EUGENE SIMPSON - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
About one thing there should be no debate. Rodriguez's performance of the cadenza of the Rachmaninoff 3rd Concerto is the cleanest, most accurate, and most effortless at this tempo available on disc. Among the many recordings of this concerto in my collection are those of Rachmaninoff, Anievas, Horowitz, Wild, Hough, Ashkenasy, Argerich, Gieseking, Volodos and Cliburn, but of those who attempt to play this cadenza at a quick tempo and without substantially stretching the beat, none comes anywhere near Rodriguez. With that said, and granting the flawless technique of this pianist, there are elements of this performance that make it less than ideal for me. I find the statement of the opening theme both too fast, too matter of fact, and devoid of expression. The adoption of the faster tempo for this theme obviates the need for several tempo adjustments as the work moves from one section to another, but in so doing, loses some essential expressive elements in movement one. Once again, in movement three, things are so easy for Rodriguez that the tempo is a shade too fast. If ever a piece needed to be performed in the "grand manner" it is this great work. To toss it off diminishes both the stature of the work and the performance. After studying three Rachmaninoff recordings of this artist, he seems to vacillate between a classical approach to this literature and a romantic approach to it. A perfect example is the performance of the "Elegie," the first of the five fantasy pieces. Here, he perfectly captures the unique romanticism that Rachmaninoff requires, and immediately forgets it in the famous chestnut, "Prelude in C Sharp Minor."

The remainder of the disc includes five preludes which are played impressively. The concerto, the magnum opus on this disc, fares well when compared to others on record but does not approach the musical heights of the Volodos/Levine/Berlin Philharmonic album.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You Can Do a Lot Better 20 Sep 2010
By George - Published on Amazon.com
Having loved much of Rodriguez's recordings of solo Rachmaninov, I wanted to give his Rach 3 a try. The first thing I noticed was the distant miking on this live recording, something I have never liked, for everything sounds too far away, no matter how loud it is played. It also created a somewhat blurry sound that didn't help the performers. This recording was made in 1997 and the sound really should have been a lot better. The second thing I noticed was a great deal of extraneous noise. Whether onstage or in the audience, the mikes unfortunately did great job at capturing every noise that occurred during the performance, which leads me to believe that perhaps the miking wasn't distant, but it was just a murky mix. In any case, it sure didn't help convey the performance in a positive light. Rodriguez plays the opening theme in a rather fast tempo, close to the composers own recording of this work. I personally prefer a slower tempo here, as it tends to bring out the beauty and mystery in the long, chain-like opening theme. The orchestra, here and throughout the recording, are nothing to write home about. This is the biggest flaw in this recording and it is a big one. I kept wanting more power in the climaxes and more synchronicity between the soloist and orchestra. Not that Santiago was perfect by any means, for with all of his technical expertise, he lacks a more emotional style that conveys the more tender moments. For every instance of impressive power and authority there was another where I just couldn't connect emotionally with what he was doing. The second movement was the most successful for the pianist, but unfortunately things didn't really heat up enough in the finale and I was left feeling unsatisfied. Though for the most part this can probably be credited to the orchestra, not to mention the sound, the end result was a recording that I cannot recommend.
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