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Rachmaninov : Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 3
 
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Rachmaninov : Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 3

Nikolai Lugansky, Sakari Oramo & City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
3 April 2006 | Format: MP3

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Song Title
Time
Popularity  
30
1
12:39
30
2
6:12
30
3
7:49
30
4
15:50
30
5
10:43
30
6
14:35
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Feb. 2003
  • Release Date: 1 Feb. 2003
  • Label: Warner Classics International
  • Copyright: 2003 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:07:48
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001LGXMMA
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,786 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By I. Giles HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 Dec. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This disc, along with the others in the series, has been the recipient of very opposing critical reviews. Essentially it did not appeal to the reviewer in the Gramophone who was far from welcoming. The BBC Music Magazine on the other hand liked the discs sufficiently to immediately make them their benchmark references at that time.

This underlines the very personal nature of reviewing, even within 'expert' magazines and therefore all reviews, including this one, should be read with that in mind.

Both magazines described the technical aspects of the piano playing, the orchestral accompaniment and the recording quality as being of very high quality. The divergence of opinion centred around the perceived emotional involvement or not of Lugansky. The Gramophone reviewer perceived him as being very cool and emotionally disengaged. The BBC magazine reviewer conversely found the playing to be completely emotionally engaged but in a rather cooler way than is often the case.

The issue therefore revolves around the concepts of coolness, being detached or being engaged and whether this perception communicates Rachmaninov's music to the listener sufficiently. It seems to me that this is as much about the reviewer as about Lugansky so I will add my own thoughts and observations on the matter as follows:

I own several CDs of Lugansky playing Rachmaninov and also the Chopin Eudes. I would agree that his playing style is on the cool side and would add that he often favours a darker palette than many when it comes to tonally or texturally balancing the notes that he is playing. This darker aspect is also reinforced by the way he brings out the weight in terms of the rhythmical aspects of the music being played. The Chopin etudes are the darkest set I have heard.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ms. A. Busby on 28 Nov. 2010
Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
What can I say about Lugansky that has not already been said so many times?
If I were an expert in piano music then I could talk about his left hand line and all those things, but I'm not so I won't. this is simply Rachmaninov's best played by the finest concert pianist around today.

His understanding of these huge complex works is legendary and his technique is breathtaking.
He demonstrates a balance of confidence in his interpretation with a clarity of vision which makes it for me the perfect way to listen to Rachmaninov. You know he knows the pieces so well and he knows he doesn't need to show off. The result is radiantly fluid and passionate playing.

The concert is clearly studio recorded so there is no audience coughing and shuffling which really spoils live works! The sound quality on my mp3 was well balanced. Good bass with no distortion on the more treble bits.

If you are looking for an introduction to Rachmaninov's concertos then you could do a lot worse than this. So inexpensive and available on download - treat yourself!!!
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By wyburgh on 12 Feb. 2011
Format: Audio CD
Lugansky's use of Rachmaninov's reduced version of the central development section in the first movement of Piano Concerto No. 3, completely undermines this recording for me. He can play his socks off in the rest of the work but it never recovers from this anticlimax.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Fine Rachmaninov playing for those who warm to Lugansky's slightly cool approach 23 Dec. 2012
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This disc, along with the others in the series, has been the recipient of very opposing critical reviews. Essentially it did not appeal to the reviewer in the Gramophone who was far from welcoming. The BBC Music Magazine on the other hand liked the discs sufficiently to immediately make them their benchmark references at that time.

This underlines the very personal nature of reviewing, even within 'expert' magazines and therefore all reviews, including this one, should be read with that in mind.

Both magazines described the technical aspects of the piano playing, the orchestral accompaniment and the recording quality as being of very high quality. The divergence of opinion centred around the perceived emotional involvement or not of Lugansky. The Gramophone reviewer perceived him as being very cool and emotionally disengaged. The BBC magazine reviewer conversely found the playing to be completely emotionally engaged but in a rather cooler way than is often the case.

The issue therefore revolves around the concepts of coolness, being detached or being engaged and whether this perception communicates Rachmaninov's music to the listener sufficiently. It seems to me that this is as much about the reviewer as about Lugansky so I will add my own thoughts and observations on the matter as follows:

I own several CDs of Lugansky playing Rachmaninov and also the Chopin Eudes. I would agree that his playing style is on the cool side and would add that he often favours a darker palette than many when it comes to tonally or texturally balancing the notes that he is playing. This darker aspect is also reinforced by the way he brings out the weight in terms of the rhythmical aspects of the music being played. The Chopin etudes are the darkest set I have heard. Nothing is played that is not written, it is just a matter of emphasis and this makes a considerable difference. It shows Chopin in a different emotional light and that affects our own emotional response to both the music and the pianist too. These observations can be also be applied to Lugansky's Rachmaninov.

There is a DVD of Lugansky playing Rachmaninov in a concert at the Roque d'Antheron and here it is possible to witness Lugansky's tremendous technical abilities and also his total concentration on the music as the music reaches a very exciting conclusion in each case. All this is done with scarcely a glance at the keyboard, eyes often skyward, evident rapt internal concentration and no evidence of physical strain. This is a far cry from Lang Lang's more demonstrative expression of emotional attachment for example but certainly no less sincere or deeply felt.

I find these two concertos to include all that has been described as above. The speeds are generally fairly brisk, the climaxes are reached with surety and everything is very clearly laid before us sonically. The piano is well integrated with the orchestra which is a true partner to the piano rather than just an accompanist. The recording is wide ranging, well balanced and musically faithful.

There is undoubtedly an element of coolness and an element of the darker side too. There are many more emotionally overt Rachmaninov performances of note such as those by Horowitz or Katchen (no. 2) for example and these can be enjoyed in different ways. I also currently enjoy the recordings of these two concertos by Ashkenazy, Andsnes, Bolet, Bronfman, Hough, Pletnev and Rodriguez to place them in strictly alphabetical order. Earl Wild's otherwise fine recordings are ruined for me by the large cuts he makes in the third concerto.

In the end there are equally exalted places for all of these pianists in their own different ways. I would suggest that Lugansky belongs to the same exalted group. He will not appeal to everybody but he certainly is worth listening to, especially if you like your Rachmaninov slightly cool, dark, stirred but not shaken!
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Continuing the Survey of the Rachmaninov Concerti 6 Sept. 2005
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
One of the aspects that appeals to this listener about Nikolai Lugansky's approach to the perennial favorite piano concerti of Sergei Rachmaninov is the commitment to the organic feeling of each work. So often these concerti are served up as early career, flamboyant exercises to introduce the young pianist du jour to already accepting audiences. And at times the imprint on the works imposed by the various pianists is what remains in the hall after the performance, not Rachmaninov.

Nikolai Lugansky takes more of the academic approach (not unlike the conducting of Boulez and Salonen among others) to restudy the tired works and hence rediscover the inherent magic. As demonstrated on this fine recording with Sakari Oramo and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Lugansky seems as familiar with the orchestral scoring as he is pliant with the piano role. The result is intelligent phrasing, knowing when to hold back and when to thunder forth. In both the lesser-known 1st and the infamous 3rd Lugansky finds the brains and the brawn and the lyricism that is meltingly beautiful. And what an unexpected pleasure to find a pianist paired with the same orchestra for the cycle of four concerti! A superb recording to add to the newer recording of the 2nd and 4th! Grady Harp, September 05
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Addition to the Catalogue 5 Jun. 2009
By Andrew M. Klein - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
These are insightful, wonderful performances of Rachmaninov's concertos and the Paganini Variations by a very talented young Russian virtuoso who shows off a technique so facile as to be disarming -- even disturbing. (Aren't these supposed to be hard to play?) I disagree with Mr. Grabowsky here. The performances are not forgettable or played in a robotic fashion, a harsh remark. The Third and the others indeed sound as if they are being played too easily, which may account for the assessment that Lugansky is uninvolved in what he is doing. ("Clean fingering" doesn't do justice to what's shown here.) And I must admit that I, too, was a bit put off by his Third at first, which ought to be a terrible stuggle for anyone to play, but doesn't seem that way as Lugansky plays it. I had the same impression to a lesser degree about the First (an undeservedly neglected masterwork of Rachmaninov's youth, revised, as I recall, later -- but I am not going to look that up for this purpose), where the insane element of the credenza in the first movement seemed to fall short to me. A second and third listening to both persuaded me otherwise in both cases. This performance of the Third does not compare to Argerich's or the old Horowitz performance either, though I have not listened to that for a long time, but it is well thought out and the playing carefully reveals all of the intricate material that Rachmnaninov created here, delivered very much in the manner of the master himself in his own performances with Ormandy. To say that these performances are like Rachmaninov's own, which they are, can hardly be taken seriously as criticism. I will have to relisten to the latter to see if I agree about the "intensity" and "personality" comment, but I do not recall them that way. Lugansky's Third may be the weakest of his performances of all of these marvelous works, but it will stay with me and be revisited fondly. Listen to the whole set and more than once before dismissing this effort. If I could find a better complete set recorded with modern technique, I would acquire it. I'll keep searching and hoping (Martha could do it, but won't), as I have for decades.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Can't get much satisfaction from Nick and the boys 20 April 2008
By The Man in the Hathaway Shirt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Lugansky takes on one of Rachmaninoff's best-known concerti along with one few people have heard.

Both times the results are the same: timid. You won't listen to these recordings for a few moments and say "Ah, that's Lugansky!" I detect little personality in these works. (He's better live, but even there I think he's overrated.) The temperature never rises above "medium-cool." Yes, it's nice to have Rachmannioff concerti where the pianist isn't tossing his hair about and sweating on the keyboard, but the composer's own performance does this and has far more personality and intensity. The big build in the development section of the 3rd's first movement (about half-way through)sounds like an exercise. I hear no expressive features--no rubato, no color, no dynamics, no shading, just admittedly clean fingering, but there's more to the Rach 3rd than that. Luganksy handles the sad second lyrical theme nicely enough, but that's about it. Tempi are on the slow side throughout; I don't mind a broad Rach 3--Argerich's way isn't the only way--but there also has to be tension. Here, every time there's a long sigh, it doesn't feel like we're coming down from anything and so it feels obligatory rather than earned. Similarly, while Lugi'e sound is clean, I miss the bell-like cantabile of others in this music. In fact, Rachy said the opening choral statement by the piano was supposed to be bell-like, I believe. It's a special kind of lyricism that Russian pianists are famous for, but it's not very present here, at least not to my ears.

It's all bautifully-recorded, but the City of Burmingham SO generally sounds sedate and anonymous. Gone is the bite and coiled energy from their Rattle days, at least as far as this recording is concerned. There's no push-pull between conductor and soloist, a la Toscanini and Horowitz, or Chailly and Argerich, or Coates and Horowitz. On the first concerto they sound fresher, possibly because this piece hasn't been done to death. Still, I'll once again opt for Rachmaninoff's own recorded performance with Ormandy. In a catalog crammed full of competitive Rachmaninoff piano concertos, this disc is basically forgettable.
Now Part of a Budget-Priced 9CD Box Set 11 May 2013
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
For those who like Lugansky's playing (as I do) you might be interested to know that this CD and the ones with the other concertos plus the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini are now part of a budget-priced 9CD box (whose total cost as I write this is about what you'd pay for two CDs otherwise) here: Nikolai Lugansky

Scott Morrison
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