Top critical review
51 people found this helpful
on 14 April 2007
No question that Ashkenazy, Argerich, & Michelangeli are geat pianists and that their Rach recordings are among the best. But two other interpreters are so outstanding that their recordings are...what can one say...transcendent ?
The recordings by Rachmaninov himself are benchmarks and beyond reproach. Unfortunately he lived at a time when recording technology was primitive, although modern restoration specialists have made a wonderful job of bringing his recordings to life on the Naxos Historical label. I recommend these to any music lover who can accept the limitations of less-than-perfect recording for the sake of hearing exactly what this extraordinary composer intended. If one cannot put up with the shortcomings of restored mechanical/electric recording technology, then the next best option is Horowitz, on whom Rachmaninov himself had conferred his blessing. But, beautiful as they are, the sound quality of the Horowitz recordings falls short of what we expect today. What to do?
There is one great modern pianist who plays the Rachmaninov concertos and the Paganini Variations with all the technical brilliance and interpretive skill of the composer himself. To my mind his interpretations are superior to all the well-known pianists named so far. He forswears flashy displays of technique to revert strictly to Rachmaninov's original scores, especially with respect to tempi. He is well served with a first-rate modern recording. I refer you to Stephen Hough's recording of the four Rachmaninov concertos and the Paganini Variations, with the Dallas Symphony under Andrew Litton. You will not be disappointed.