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Rachmaninov: 24 Preludes CD

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Sergei Rachmaninov
  • Audio CD (27 Sept. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: HYPERION
  • ASIN: B003XWFLR4
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 235,686 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Prelude in C sharp minor Op 3 No 2 [4'51] - Steven Osborne
  2. Ten Preludes Op 23 [35'56] - Steven Osborne
  3. Thirteen Preludes Op 32 [37'38] - Steven Osborne

Product Description

Product Description

Prélude op.3 n°2 - 10 Préludes op.23 - 13 Préludes op.32 / Steven Osborne, piano

Review

Outstanding Rachmaninov playing of acute perception, discretion and poetic sensibility, limpid, powerful and luminous in equal measure --BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE

There are few pianists who offer such range and depth of palette: not even Ashkenazy's seminal reading --GRAMOPHONE

For a truly spellbinding modern account, Osborne now holds the winning ticket --INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Dec. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
After reading a number of notices of this disc (or its previous label) on both the British and American reviewing sites I am very clear what my first duty is in writing yet another review. It is to say clearly that any prospective purchasers should sample the set first and see how well they like the recorded sound. Again, I am quite clear what I think about that - it lets the performance down - but I have only seen one other review that finds exactly what I find. Indeed, some listeners seem to consider the sound ideal, in which case I am not about to generalise or to be dogmatic about the issue. I suggest start with the third track, the mighty Prelude in B flat. I suspect the performance is simply terrific, recalling a famous account by Richter in the palmy early days when `Slava used to play more forte' as his widow put it. However I had to hear the performance through rather than via a thick and turgid piano sound that takes the glint off Osborne's tone. The B flat prelude is my own outright favourite among the entire 24, and I imagine it is probably many listeners' favourite too, so disappointment with the recording immediately loses the disc the fifth star that I am sure the playing and interpretation deserve.

That's one extreme. The other is the delicate treble pianissimo sequences, which are fairly numerous. Here the sound is remote and rather lifeless. I suppose I should emphasise that I am being so critical because this is a recording from as recently as 2008. If it had been from 1968 or even 1988 I would have been more tolerant and made more allowance, but by 2000 we had got used to far better sound than this. What I find really frustrating is that I more than slightly suspect that I may be hearing a pianist out of the ordinary here. What constitutes `ordinary'?
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Recorded more than two decades ago (1987&89), Alexeev's account of Rachmaninov's complete preludes can still hold its own. These are deeply expressive performances, but never sentimental. There's an element of suffering underneath the lyrical beauty of Rachmaninov's music, Alexeev captures it so masterfully with thoughtful use of the pedal. Sometimes, he doesn't use it at all to bring out inner voices or intricacy of broken chords with clarity, where most of pianists blur them with too much use of sustaining pedal. I usually get tired of Rachmaninov's music if I listen to two discs in succession, but these recordings I replayed immediately and each time I play them, there's something new to discover.
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Format: Audio CD
I saw this great pianist in action in 2012 at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh playing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 with the St Petersburg PO. He really went for it but very sadly there were many mistakes which were noted not just by me but in reviews of the concert the next day. So I was interested to see what recordings he did when he was in more of his heyday, which I suppose was during the late 1980's and through the 90's. On this CD he recorded all of the Rachmaninov Preludes and the Morceaux de fantaisie and also Moments musicaux in 1987/89 for Virgin Classics. I'm glad to say he plays them all very beautifully indeed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8e2f1588) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8dfee120) out of 5 stars Rachmaninoff Without Hype or Goo 25 Jan. 2012
By RJAdams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is Rachmaninoff on the piano the way Stokowski and Ormandy put the composer across with the Philadelphia Orchestra: neither lean nor garishly exhibitionist but possessing a technicolor palette, stressing architecture and structure and conveying those qualities with great beauty and variety of tone, all wrapped in splendid sound. The Amazon listener consensus of the earlier, full priced release of this recording was 4 stars. This budget edition deserves five stars and a top recommendation.

Steven Osborne is a major keyboard talent who also has enjoyed the wonderful production values of Hyperion, a label which consistently produces exceptionally engineered piano recordings. This one, recorded in August 2008 in Henry Wood Hall in London, is a delight to the ear and mind and should please both audiophiles and connoisseurs of the grand piano. If Osborne does not replicate the manic narrative of Sviatoslav Richter, the feverish pyrotechnics of Weissenberg, or the classical poise of Sergio Fiorentino, he consciously acknowledges that spectrum but steers a middle course. His renditions cover the territory and stand up to repeated listening, and although the Scotland-born Osborne is understandably a darling of the UK press, critical acclaim from US reviewers has likewise greeted this disc.

The key to Osborne's performance may be his thoughtful emphasis on the variety of expression contained in these 23 preludes. This recital is no unremitting sequence of gloom, or railing against it, or lilac perfumed memories. Nor does he eschew Rachmaninoff's longing for a vanished landscape in a world newly wracked by revolution, industrialized war, and displaced souls. His strength is in projecting the sonorities of these works while not overemphasizing or understating the manic emotions of this composer's displaced soul.

North American listeners should seek out Osborne's recordings. His defining characteristic is an affinity for sonority and structure. I am reminded of the playing of Ivan Moravec, the great Czech artist. Osborne's Debussy and Ravel solo discs have earned critical approval. Moreover, he has a streak of adventure: his recording of piano concertos of Tovey and MacKenzie is a real find, scores that should appeal to those who love the keyboard language of Brahms (and the highland atmospherics of Max Bruch). A versatility is also revealed in his chamber music collaborations.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8dfee36c) out of 5 stars IN SEARCH OF A GIANT 1 Dec. 2013
By DAVID BRYSON - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
After reading a number of notices of this disc (or its previous label) on both the British and American reviewing sites I am very clear what my first duty is in writing yet another review. It is to say clearly that any prospective purchasers should sample the set first and see how well they like the recorded sound. Again, I am quite clear what I think about that – it lets the performance down – but I have only seen one other review that finds exactly what I find. Indeed, some listeners seem to consider the sound ideal, in which case I am not about to generalise or to be dogmatic about the issue. I suggest start with the third track, the mighty Prelude in B flat. I suspect the performance is simply terrific, recalling a famous account by Richter in the palmy early days when ‘Slava used to play more forte’ as his widow put it. However I had to hear the performance through rather than via a thick and turgid piano sound that takes the glint off Osborne’s tone. The B flat prelude is my own outright favourite among the entire 24, and I imagine it is probably many listeners’ favourite too, so disappointment with the recording immediately loses the disc the fifth star that I am sure the playing and interpretation deserve.

That’s one extreme. The other is the delicate treble pianissimo sequences, which are fairly numerous. Here the sound is remote and rather lifeless. I suppose I should emphasise that I am being so critical because this is a recording from as recently as 2008. If it had been from 1968 or even 1988 I would have been more tolerant and made more allowance, but by 2000 we had got used to far better sound than this. What I find really frustrating is that I more than slightly suspect that I may be hearing a pianist out of the ordinary here. What constitutes ‘ordinary’? Think back to what Horowitz, Michelangeli and Serkin had to say about that matter.

When Horowitz said that the generation of players contemporary with Steven Osborne could play very accurately but that 10 minutes of any of them was enough for him he was making it clear that he felt a lack of individuality among them. ‘At least I sound different’ he said. Michelangeli was very rude indeed, expressing an extraordinary opinion that animals were better endowed than these players were in the matter of instinct. Serkin was rather more diplomatic, but it’s not hard to read a certain implication into his emphasis on distinct personality as his prime requirement. Were they right, these giants of the recent past? Were they off-beam or were they just exaggerating a bit? My own uncomfortable feeling is that they had more of a point than I like to acknowledge.

And that is what is bothering me about this recorded recital. Behind the sound I suspect I hear some real individuality that I am no longer so used to as I once was. In fact the recording of the first number, the hackneyed and plagiarised C# minor, is not too bad, and the torrential middle section has a suggestion (dare I say?) of Horowitz about it. Two tracks later and we have the B flat number, where as I say my recollection reverted to Richter. What these, tracks 14-17 (for instance) and the last number of all have is a feeling of lack of inhibition, a sense of abandon (under control of course) that leads me to hope that I might be getting near the end of the rainbow. Forgetting suggestions of Horowitz, Richter or any of them, does Steven Osborne at last give us the elusive quality of a fully distinctive personality? I wish the recorded sound had given me more opportunity to know what I think about that.

There are many different moods in these 24 works, and what is at least unmistakable is that Osborne finds a thoughtful and sensitive answer to all the questions they pose. I am not really minded to argue the pros and cons of this or that interpretative detail, because the thoughts that this disc fills me with are not matters of detail. As with the sound, the performances give rise to a wide range of opinions. If you have a taste for hyperbole in the way the opinions are expressed you may derive some enlightenment, or at least some entertainment, from certain reviews, together with their associated comments, on the US site. One way or another I do not feel like trying to settle any of these arguments beyond indicating in a general way what impressions the disc leaves me with. What I am in no doubt at all about is that I am going to be looking for Steven Osborne’s work with a keener interest than usual from now on.
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