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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excerpt of Rachmaninov's life
Chandos is excellent again, giving us two premier releases of the incomplete work Monna Vanna. It wasoriginally thought as an opera, but Rachmaninov left it incomplete for piano and soloists. Igor Buketoff, the conductor, explains how he finished the works by wish of the Rachmaninov family. Nice booklet to read, indeed.
The Piano Concerto No.4 gives us an earlier...
Published on 5 Feb. 2002

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the genuine article but an interesting oddity
While Chandos are to be congratulated on bringing out this CD, it needs to be made clear that neither of the works are performed in the form Rachmaninoff left them in. The fragment of the incomplete opera Monna Vanna was left in piano & vocal score and was orchestrated by the conductor on this recording, Igor Buketoff, who also translated the original Russian words into...
Published on 12 Mar. 2012 by J. Lockyer


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the genuine article but an interesting oddity, 12 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Monna Vanna, Act 1/Piano Concerto No.4 (Audio CD)
While Chandos are to be congratulated on bringing out this CD, it needs to be made clear that neither of the works are performed in the form Rachmaninoff left them in. The fragment of the incomplete opera Monna Vanna was left in piano & vocal score and was orchestrated by the conductor on this recording, Igor Buketoff, who also translated the original Russian words into English - I do not know why, unless it was because his version was to be first performed in the USA.

So the orchestration, while competent, is not the composer's own and the language it is sung in is not as the composer intended either. As to the performance, with no alternative available it has to be judged acceptable, although some strong American accents have to be endured.

Apart from his early opera, Aleko, Rachmaninoff's works in this genre take the form more of music-dramas than bel canto opera. Do not expect any big tunes here (or for that matter in his other two mature operas, The Miserly Knight and Francesca da Rimini, although the former is blazingly intense in its own way and the latter more lyrical, at least containing a love scene). Monna Vanna, so far as may be judged from this recording, follows in similar form.

As far as the 4th Concerto is concerned, this too has been tampered with by Buketoff, who admits in his accompanying note that the work is "notably altered in tempo, dynamics, bowings and orchestral balance." Buketoff justifies the alterations by referring to play-throughs he heard from the composer - but some 50 years before this recording - and Rachmaninoff's expressed wish to polish up the orchestration - but surely that begs the question why record the "original" in anything other than its truly original form, when the composer's revised version is widely known and available on CD?

I am sceptical that anything Buketoff does improves on Rachmaninoff's first thoughts. More so because the real original version is now available on the Ondine label, excellently performed by Alexander Ghindin with Ashkenazy conducting. That recording truly discloses the originality of the work and places it firmly in context. It is also far better recorded and played. Black is certainly competent but no more than this and unusually for Chandos the recorded sound quality is poor. It needs at least a 10% volume boost compared with normal listening levels and the sound is still far from clear, rather muddy all round.

So, buy this CD out of curiosity by all means and (sonic qualities excepted) you probably won't be disappointed but don't buy it for illumination. You'll probably never hear Monna Vanna in any other form unless an enterprising company records it as left by the composer but you can certainly hear a far superior recording of the genuine original version of the Concerto (aptly coupled with the original of Rachmaninoff's 1st Concerto - sounding even more like the Grieg Concerto it was modelled on).

Three stars only.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excerpt of Rachmaninov's life, 5 Feb. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Monna Vanna, Act 1/Piano Concerto No.4 (Audio CD)
Chandos is excellent again, giving us two premier releases of the incomplete work Monna Vanna. It wasoriginally thought as an opera, but Rachmaninov left it incomplete for piano and soloists. Igor Buketoff, the conductor, explains how he finished the works by wish of the Rachmaninov family. Nice booklet to read, indeed.
The Piano Concerto No.4 gives us an earlier vision of the official version, with a nice performance of Black. It has new nice moments to enjoy.
Five stars, good effort.
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Rachmaninov: Monna Vanna, Act 1/Piano Concerto No.4
Rachmaninov: Monna Vanna, Act 1/Piano Concerto No.4 by Sergey Rachmaninov (Audio CD - 1999)
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