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48 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Played as they were written to be, 6 Mar 2002
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: 24 Preludes, Sonata No.2 (Audio CD)
If there is one person who is able to bring out the full power of Rachmaninov, it's Ashkenazy. Nuff said.
A set of 24 preludes (one for each of the 12 keys, major and minor) has been done quite a few times since JSB invented the sport. Rachmaninov just took it one stage further. Okay, so they were not published in one go, so it can be argued that they lack cohesion, but that does not really hold water. Each one of these pieces has an emotional depth and clarity that once you hear them it's as if you can see right into Rach's head.
The second piano sonata does not really fit on the same CD - it's not the same sort of thing at all - but it's good to have the recording available.
All in all, if there are better performances of these works available, then they haven't come anywhere near me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashkenazy on home ground is hard to match, let alone beat, 26 Nov 2012
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rachmaninov: 24 Preludes, Sonata No.2 (Audio CD)
For many collectors Ashkenazy and Rachmaninov makes a powerful and potent combination almost beyond compare.Ever since he burst upon the recording scene in 1963 with a marvellous Piano Concerto 3 Ashkenazy has produced winning disc after winning disc of the Rachmaninov repertoire.

Apart from his fabulous technical skills he brings that innate sense of 'Russianness' to his interpretations. There are the uninhibited emotional outbursts, the bleak desolation, the sense of the epic and also the introspection to list but a few of the complex elements that go to make up the complete musical experience. All of these conflicting aspects of Rachmaninov, his world and his music are laid bare before us.

There are many fine sets of the 24 Preludes, and I own quite a few of them plus partial sets by Richter among others, yet Ashkenazy brings a sense of absolute authenticity to these readings. Others may excel in many ways but the combination of elements that Ashkenazy creates is very special and specially Russian.

Much the same can be observed about the second sonata. This is available in the original full length, the shortened and more compact second version plus various hybrid versions. Ashkenazy chooses to play the first version which many now believe to be the best. Ashkenazy obviously thinks so too and makes a very convincing case for it. There is no sense of the undue length that Rachmaninov feared as a result of critical opinion that was probably best ignored.

Decca has now reissued and repackaged the performances and recordings of these works in this generously filled set which makes a particularly tempting pair of discs.

I would suggest that whatever other recordings you own of this music, these Ashkenazy discs deserve the most serious consideration for any collection or understanding of the Rachmaninov world. I would also suggest that no lover of Rachmaninov can really afford to miss this opportunity to extend their understanding with such a guide at such a reasonable price.

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Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

Great review as always Ian and you have tempted me to buy these Ashkenazy/Rachmaninov discs. I have his recordings of the Rachmaninov Piano Concertos and love those as well. (U.K. review)

I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)

I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)

I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Keep up the good work!
Thank you (UK review)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL PERFORMANCE OF WONDERFUL MUSIC, 17 April 2012
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: 24 Preludes, Sonata No.2 (Audio CD)
Ashkenazy is wonderful. All the Russian drama and romance of Rackmaninov with exquisite sensitivity and control. I recommend this to all lovers of Rachmaninov.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rachmanino - the complete preludes, 21 Dec 2012
By 
Dr. H. A. Jones "Howard Jones" (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: 24 Preludes, Sonata No.2 (Audio CD)
In this Double Decca recording, Vladimir Askenazy gives us a fine interpretation of the complete sets of Preludes by Sergei Rachmaninov. The Preludes were published in three sets. The earliest - and the first of Rachmaninov's published pieces for the piano - was the second movement of the five pieces comprising his Op.3 of 1892. The second set of 10 Preludes, Op.23 appeared in 1903 and the final set of 13 pieces, Op.32, was published in 1910. The Op.3 piece is one of the most popular pieces Rachmaninoff composed.

In addition to the preludes, the CD is completed by a performance of the Sonata No.2 of 1913, which was revised in 1931. All of these pieces are so thoroughly characteristic of Rachmaninov's romantic music, beautifully played by Ashkenazy.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashkenazy at his best., 13 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: 24 Preludes, Sonata No.2 (Audio CD)
Vladimir Askenazy is the definitive performer of Rachmaninov Piano works, his sensitivity suits him better than anyone else to performing both the concertos and the preludes by both Rachmaninov and Chopin.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite the best recording of these Preludes., 25 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: 24 Preludes, Sonata No.2 (Audio CD)
No serious CD Collection is complete without these Preludes. Ahkenazy,s recording is THE only one, to collect. I never tire of playing it.
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Rachmaninov: 24 Preludes, Sonata No.2
Rachmaninov: 24 Preludes, Sonata No.2 by Vladimir Ashkenazy (Audio CD - 1995)
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