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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unequalled
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...
Published on 28 Nov 2010 by Ms. A. Busby

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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a severe disappointment
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.
Published on 12 Feb 2011 by wyburgh


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unequalled, 28 Nov 2010
By 
Ms. A. Busby "Andrea" (Bradford, UK) - See all my reviews
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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 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Rachmaninov playing for those who warm to Lugansky's slightly cool approach, 23 Dec 2012
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I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov : Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 3 (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!

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

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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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a severe disappointment, 12 Feb 2011
This review is from: Rachmaninov : Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 3 (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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Rachmaninov : Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 3
Rachmaninov : Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 3 by Sergey Rachmaninov (Audio CD - 2003)
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