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This well recorded set of performances from 1996 could so easily have degenerated into a musically empty display of technical virtuosity. In this case, as is now a normal expectation from Volodos, the obvious stupendous virtuosity is completely subordinated to a wonderful recital of considerable musical delight.

The choice of program has been carefully devised in order to mix the gentle with the playful with the spectacular in such a way as to give the ears, the brain and the emotions some respite from a bombardment of repeated effects.

Thus the humour is to be found in the Carmen and Turkish Rondo for example. The spectacular can be found in such pieces as the Hungarian Rhapsody and the Tchaikovsky symphony scherzo and the gentle can be found in Schubert and Bach. Many pieces cross over and share these features and the total effect is one of a joyful selection spiced with beauty and the dazzling.

I would suggest that this is a demonstration disc of its type and at its reduced price must now qualify as a remarkable bargain. It is hard to imagine anyone listening to it finding it disappointing in any way. I would suggest that this disc almost demands to be bought! It has given me considerable pleasure every time that it has been played since it was bought in 2002.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 September 2012
There are a dozen tracks on this CD of transcriptions of songs, instrumental and orchestral works by various composers from Bach to Prokofiev. Most of the transcriptions were arranged by established composers or pianists of an earlier age, like Vladimir Horowitz and Györgyi Cziffra, but some of the tracks are original transcriptions by Volodos. His piano technique of course is phenomenal and the range of pieces he has chosen for this disc allow for a great range in playing style. Specifically the composers are Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Bizet, Liszt, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev. If you enjoy a concert of piano music beautifully played, this is a lovely CD.

The Composer - Pianists
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on 20 May 2001
Franz Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Horowitz, Cziffra, and now Arcadi Volodos - the fantastic art of the virtuoso transcriber lives on! I have to admit to a slight disappointment in Volodos's brilliant performances - not of course on the grounds of effortless technique but more on temperament - or lack of it. If you are looking for the scorching electricity of Horowitz or the frenetic diablerie of Cziffra {Volodos's Rimsky - Korsakov/Cziffra 'Flight of the Bumble Bee' is a variant of Cziffra's original score}, then you wont find it here. Admirably, Volodos is his own man with his own style, which isn't the all-embracing flamboyant virtuoso way. His playing and temperament are controlled even in such exotic pieces as the 'Carmen Variations' and the Liszt/Horowitz second Hungarian Rhapsody. His own arrangements of Rachmaninoff are beautifully expressive but lack the all out Russian nostalgia and heart-break that you get with Cherkassky or Horowitz in their Rachmaninoff performances. {that is why I found Volodos's playing of Rachmaninoff's third concerto at the London Proms disappointing}. The Schubert-Liszt arrangements are beautifully 'sung' with a full rounded cantabile; even the Prokofiev Waltz from 'Cinderella' is 'spiky' without sounding 'metallic', and to my mind Volodos sounds more temperamentally at home in the Bach-Feinberg 'Largo' than he does in the Tchaikovsky-Feinberg 'scherzo' from the 'pathetique' which has controlled exuberance rather than Russian excitement and hysteria. The Mozart-Volodos 'Turkish March' is great fun { a very enjoyable encore at his London Prom} but you never get the feeling that Volodos is living on a 'knifes edge' as you do with Cziffra or Horowitz. A great virtuoso but without a virtuoso's temperament.
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on 12 November 2010
When I was learning the piano back in the 50's my teacher was a fan of Horowitz and frequently played some of his 78's to illustrate something. However, not till much later did I find his penchant for playing his personal transcriptions of famous pieces. I'm not sure what she thought of such goings on as she never mentioned them.

My image of Horowitz as a very serious player - see some of his video footage - was shattered when I first heard his take on Carmen. What a revelation but it took the skills and determination of Volodos to transcribe them and make them available to other players. He makes light work of all of the pieces and as a consequence what with the improved quality of the recording it makes this CD an absolutely masterpiece.
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Volodos is no doubt the last living Titan of Romantic pianism after Richter, Horowitz and Rubinstein, maybe closer to Richter in terms of depth of music making. Even in these virtuoso fireworks, Volodos never plays a note just to impress listeners, but everything he does is musically motivated. I wish Sony will release more substantial music played by Volodos. Otherwise it would be such a waste of talent recording only these side dish! How about Liszt Sonata, Chopin's 3rd, Beethoven sonatas, Prokofiev & Scriabin sonatas, Bach...
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on 10 January 2011
was recommended this compilation by a piano-teaching friend who thought my 13yr old grade-5 piano playing son might like it. we both did. lots. it's sublime and i'm hopeful it will encourage and inspire him to stick with it!
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on 5 May 2001
This disc show Volodos at his best. The pieces give him the perfect opportunity to display his natural talent for virtuosity, making the piano sing, and also as a transcriber. This is deffinately the greatest disc i have purchased in years, and after i bought this one, i immediately went out and bought his other two, with which i was equally satisfied. I believe that in the Horowits transcriptions, he does the pieces more justice than Horowitz himself.
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on 30 May 2016
A wonderful extension of the virtuoso tradition: flawless execution, and no loss of musicality to technique.
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on 9 January 2015
Excellent product especially the tchaikovsky pathetique movement
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on 8 February 2012
This is my first experience with Volodos--I am afraid it will be my last. I only tried it because I appreciate transcriptions but ,sorry, this is a step too far.
I will say one thing though. IT`S WORTH BUYING IT JUST FOR THE SCHERZO FROM TCHAIKOVSKI`S FIFTH. BRILLIANT.If nothing else it has set me searching for Feinberg`s transcriptions of Tchaikovski`s 4th,5th and 6th mentioned in the note-let.
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