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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Andsnes' favourite concerto recording to date - and he should know, 29 Nov 2012
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4 (Audio CD)
As the heading to this review states, this is Andsnes' favourite concerto recording to date and, having bought several of his recordings all of which are very fine, I would be inclined to agree. Certainly it, and the whole series now achieved, must rank alongside the finest available.

The approach to the third concerto is forward moving and dramatic and in this he is fully supported by Pappano, a conductor who has been responsible for a large number of operatic recordings of drama and whose character and conducting skills seem ideally suited to this approach. Not surprisingly Andsnes opts for the larger of the two cadenzas and in this he is totally able to match Ashkenazy with Previn which is no mean feat. This concerto has the greater sense of spontaneity however and this is clearly apparent in the thrilling build up to the first movement cadenza which ends in a marked final acceleration rather than a pulling back as is so often the case. This is one of many wonderful moments when all is put on the line and carried off with conviction.

The 4th concerto is less of a warhorse in character and includes a myriad of influences including sideways references to the jazzy feel of a Gershwin. This was not so well liked by the initial reviewers who probably felt cheated with the lack of obvious big tune. One wonders what they themselves could have written of musical value. Rachmaninov undertook s number of revisions which reduced and concentrated the work which is what we hear today and on this record. The performance is delivered with the same quality of the third.

EMI have provided a fittingly full recording quality and this is an altogether exceptional disc. The only way to improve its attraction so far as I can see is for purchasers to buy the complete set now available as a combined purchase. Owners of the first disc can buy this follow-up with complete confidence. The change of orchestra from the BPO to the LSO remains a mystery to me as both are equally good.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply outstanding!, 25 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4 (Audio CD)
"Out of all my concerto recordings, I am tempted to say that I am most proud of this one". Leif Ove Andsnes has certainly got the right to be proud of himself. Since his first recording of the Rachmaninov 3 with Berglund/Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra recorded in 1995, Andsnes has improved a substantial lot. His virtuosity in this recording of Rach 3 is even more impressive and he uses an even wider range of expression throughout his performance. Outstandingly, Andsnes' playing is completely accurate throughout both the concertos, I could not detect a single wrong note which is highly extrodinary considering that the Rach concertos are considered to be some of the most technically challenging ever written. Andsnes plays with such power and conviction, and when required subtlety and beauty. When it comes to the famous cadenzas in Rach 3, Andsnes' playing is simply overwhelming with expression and emotion.

The LSO are also absolutely amazing, their playing is also very virtuosic and played with much expression. Their playing is always engaging, exciting and passionate. They are very well controlled by Pappano who ensures a perfect balance between the different layers of orchestration. Pappano also encourages really warm, wonderful sounds from the orchestra. He certainly is a great conductor and follows Andsnes all the way. Pappano and Andsnes are an excellent combination of artists, they really understand eachothers insights to the piece which is one of the many factors that makes these performances so great.

The tempi chosen for both pieces seems absolutely ideal and always works very well, the use of rubato is handled very well. The tempi, plus the wide dynamic range and excellent observation of the articulations, make the allegro climaxes absolutely thrilling, the peaceful slower sections extremely beautiful and the famous climaxes using the lyrical themes absolutely glorious.

Overall, this is an excellent recording with virtuosic, impressive and expressive performances. The sound quality is very good with superb balance. I have to admit that I actually find myself prefering these Andsnes/Pappano to the famous Ashkenazy/Previn recordings that I grew up listening to. There just seems to be even more excitment, virtuosity and expression. A simply outstanding cd, I would much look forward to more collaborations between Pappano and Andsnes, I am sure there will be more if EMI realise how perfect this combination is. I wonder what will be next? Maybe Prokofiev concertos, Rach Paganini Rhapsody, Ravel piano concertos? I certainly look forward to finding out. Most certainly reccomended!

Daniel Hogan
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's nothing short of miraculous, 3 Jan 2011
By 
Andrew R. Barnard (Leola, Pa United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4 (Audio CD)
After hearing Andsnes' fabulous recording of the first two Rachmaninov concertos (Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2), I knew this recording was sure to be outstanding. And it was. Andsnes, probably more than any other pianist, has given Rachmaninov an approach that is entirely devoid of sentimentality. But he hasn't left us with dry, tasteless music. There is a tremendous amount of emotion that will put you on the edge of your seat. We hear power and passion one moment, and melancholy and retrospection the next. While some pianists will bring out more outward show, no one can match Andsnes in making music that is deeply inward in nature. The music spills from the keys in a very subtle, but natural way. Andsnes brings out incredible detail that is fascinating. The only setback is the recording quality. It picks up excessive breathing, presumably from Pappano. And while Andsnes' tone is captured wonderfully, the LSO's tone comes across as lacking some depth. Still, the music more than makes up for these shortcomings and the recording sound is never too distracting.

When I heard that Andsnes had a new recording of the Rachmaninov 3rd coming out, I couldn't wait. I had greatly enjoyed his recording of this piece from when he was still in his twenties. It's probably no exaggeration to say that I have listened to his earlier recording hundreds of times - I love it. But his new recording, well, it's almost unbearably good. His old recording pales in comparison. All the youthfulness is still there, but there's a new sense of maturity. Andsnes' technique is even stronger than before, but he also has a whole lot more to say. In the first movement's opening poetic theme, Andsnes gives us tremendous grace and lyricism; the lovely theme speaks for itself. The LSO's accompaniment is gorgeous; Pappano takes full advantage of their deep, rich tone. And then when the simple theme gives way to running figures, Andsnes plays with an ease that only a great master can afford. I listened to this rendition for the first time outside while taking in the beauty of the fall colors around me. The music couldn't have fit in better. While Andsnes' playing gives us powerful climaxes, one never loses the ever-present autumnal feel. The cadenza (Andsnes sticks with the more powerful, dramatic version) shows Andsnes at his technical height - it's flawless. But the music never sounds harsh. It's powerful, yes, but not harsh or severe. In the second movement, Pappano leads the LSO in a resigned interpretation of the strongly melancholy opening theme. When Andsnes enters, it is with gripping emotion. Pappano and the LSO interact with Andsnes to create an atmosphere that borders on being tense, but without lapsing into sentimentality. After a particularly good closing in the second movement, we are launched into the Finale. Yes, launched. One could not possibly wish for a more controlled, yet thrilling account of this roof-raising movement. In the more dreamy middle section in E flat, Andsnes and Pappano pull out wonderful grace and beauty. The lyricism we hear is ravishing. And when we come back to the passion and drama, Andsnes and the LSO reach their zenith. The passage leading up to the closing major section will have most listeners holding on to the edge of their seats. This masterpiece, possibly Rachmaninov's greatest, comes to a brilliantly triumphant conclusion.

No one needs to be told that the 4th Concerto hasn't achieved the fame the other 3 concertos have. But with the marvelous performance of it that we hear on this CD, one is left wondering why we don't hear it more often. Andsnes' laid-back approach comes in especially handy here - it's all too easy to make this concerto seem unrestrained or even vulgar. Pappano and the LSO likewise keep up the good work they began in the 3rd. The soloist and orchestra interact in an intimate way throughout. This concerto often takes advantage of the great effect of having an orchestral soloist to partner with the pianist. These passages are particularly touching. The music often becomes so beautiful that it is easy to forget that this is not one of the more popular concertos.

In closing, this album is sure to please. Pappano and the LSO are as brilliant as ever. And Andsnes' playing puts him near the top of the list of great pianists. I consider it no exaggeration to say that if his talent continues to grow at the rate it has been, he'll be nearly unanimously recognized as the greatest pianist alive in the next twenty years. So unless you want to miss out on the treasure of a lifetime, you'll be buying this album. Bravo, Andsnes!

(Copied from my review on Amazon.com)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No. 4 Goes to the Top of the Class, 24 July 2011
By 
Allan Blonde (London & Sapporo Japan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4 (Audio CD)
Since I see that there are already very perceptive reviews of this disc on line I'll make this brief to add my applause to the chorus. Playing it for the 3rd time last evening the 4th concerto bowled me over. If you love these works you need this recording even though they have now been recorded several times outstandingly well.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Rachmaninov triumph, 28 Oct 2010
By 
Roderick Keech (Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4 (Audio CD)
Leif Ove Andsnes won a Gramophone award in 2005 for his recording of Rachmaninov's First and Second Piano Concertos, led by Antonio Pappano and accompanied by the Berlin Philharmonic Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 1 and 2. For those wanting a 5.1 high resolution version of those performances, a DVD-Audio version is also still available - one of the few titles released by EMI called 'Extended Audio Discs' Piano Concertos 1 & 2 [DVD AUDIO]. In these concertos, Andsnes brought both grace and power together with brilliant technique. The advantage of the DVD-Audio disc is not only the higher resolution surround sound, but the addition of a tantalising glimpse of Andsnes rehearsing with the BPO and Pappano. If only EMI had filmed the whole rehearsal or the whole live performance, such is the magnetism of Andsnes.

Now, five years later, Andsnes and Pappano have collaborated again to record the Third and Forth Concertos, this time with the LSO. Andsnes says he loves working with Pappano as his extensive work in opera makes for a much more involving musical experience. This is borne out admirably, again, in this exciting new recording.

Many people will ask why we need another recording of these much recorded works. Andsnes himself previously recorded the Third Concerto fifteen years ago but felt that as he has grown emotionally, as well as artistically, he had something new to bring to these masterpieces. Both are incredibly difficult to play but Andsnes' interpretation is both magesterial and brilliant, in equal measure.

Despite being a studio recording where you would expect ideal conditions, this disc has a less than perfect recording balance (the orchestra - the strings in particular - seem poorly placed and captured and there are other annoying extraneous noises in the Third Concerto - Mr Andsnes heavy breathing it seems), which is very hard to understand. What were the engineers doing ? That being said, I feel this interpretation is so fine that it overshadows all other contenders. It has already been given the Gramophone Magazine 'Editor's Choice' Award, for what it's worth, and I think that will be only one of many other awards to come.

Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but..., 6 Oct 2011
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4 (Audio CD)
There are so many great recordings of Rachmaninov Concertos that any newcomer must be exceptional in order to make an impression. I wouldn't quite describe this as 'exceptional', yet it's unlikely to disappoint anyone looking for a decent coupling of these two Concertos. This No. 3 is an improvement on Andsnes's earlier effort with Berglund, both pianistically and orchestrally. I do, however, feel that Andsnes's playing is a bit too 'straight' and uninflected to rank with the best. Others may respond to his cool approach more than I did, but I feel that pianists like Earl Wild and Zoltan Kocsis are more engaging from similar interpretive parameters. Andsnes plays the bigger and more grandiose of the two cadenzas in the first movement - impressive enough, although I would've thought the fleeter, more darting one would've suited his interpretation better.

No complaints at all about No. 4 - this is one of the best peformances I've heard of this rather more elusive Concerto. The last movement is particularly well done - very exciting and brilliantly held together.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars concealed virtuosity, 29 Dec 2010
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4 (Audio CD)
Having several recordings of Rachmaninov Concertos, my first thought was, "not another one!" I began with number 4. I was held completely not just by the recording quality, but by the performance, a performance by someone completely at home and within the music. I was (it seemed), at the performance. Wonderful. The other three concertos left me the same feelings. Great.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second to non!, 8 Aug 2013
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4 (Audio CD)
Well Wow! It's just amazing, it surly is one of the best recordings of the rach 3 out there if not the best, you can tell straight away hes at home with the piece, being able to play it good or bad is one thing but he plays it just full of passion really respect this guy I don't think you could get much better than this, just get this if you want to listen to the rach 3 he's incredible. 5 stats easy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 18 Aug 2014
By 
M. C. Lawson (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4 (Audio CD)
Fabulous, unrivalled playing.
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Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4
Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4 by Leif Ove Andsnes (Audio CD - 2010)
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