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Best recordings of Rachmaninov


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Showing 1-18 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Feb 2014, 01:48:22 GMT
JayJayDee says:
Prompted by Nick, Harry and enthusiast's views on Previn's Rachmaninov 2 I offer a niche for expansion of this topic.....I find that Rachmaninov is one of those composers who inspires extreme views (in many directions).
I got to know his 2nd symphony through Previn's version (which was much-touted as one of the first to open out the cuts). I found it gorgeous and heart-warming and comes from a time when Previn was attracting a lot of attention. I loved his story about the Russian woman with tears in her eyes offering him an orange in gratitude after a performance in Moscow.
I have bought a few versions since that EMI LP (notably the very broad Rozhdestvensky performance on Pickwick), but for me, the Previnremains like a first love. It seems anything but bland, but I would accept that the recording needs a sharper focus - or appropriate knob-tweaking!
Around the time of release of Previn's Rach 2 I also bought Ormandy's Symphonic Dances, which was coupled with Hindemith's Mathis der Maler symphony. That also remains a firm favourite despite challenges from Kondrashin and Ashkenazy.
For me, versions of the concertos don't inspire such loyalty to the first versions that I heard. But I still find it hard to beat Earl Wild's efforts with Horenstein and the RPO from 1965, which was my first CD set of the piano concertos.

Posted on 7 Feb 2014, 08:32:06 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Feb 2014, 08:37:06 GMT
Roasted Swan says:
It tends to date many of us here that versions that the "imprinted" on us come from the LP era! I saved for ages to buy the EMI/Melodiya set which featured various Soviet conductors/orchestras but most notably Svetlanov in the first two symphonies. That version of No.1 Symphony 1 remains my favourite - an maelstrom of fury and vehemence in the presence of which the recording quails and crumbles into a mass of distortion at the final climax - quite glorious! The Svetlanov 2 with the Bolshoi orchestra is remarkably committed too as long as you can accept the distinctively Soviet orchestral sound and the (now) non-pc cuts. Symphonies 1. Also, back then I enjoyed Michael Ponti playing the solo piano music - although the old Vox/Turnabout engineering does sound pretty thin and wiry now the performances are still wonderfully firey if occasionally rough Rachmaninoff: Complete Piano Music (I see on Amazon.com you can download this whole set for under $6.00 - so unfair!). One of my great Proms experiences was seeing Rohzdestvensky conduct Rachmaninov's opera Francesca da Rimini - another Melodiya LP favourite - no CD version has ever quite matched the memory. Isle of the Dead is another great great work and this also got a very good treatment from Previn coupled with the Symphonic Dances - another of his LP's from that era that is in no way overshadowed.

PS: I'd agree that technically the Previn No.2 on EMI was not as good/clear as many of his other discs - but that was true of No.1 as well which lacks the bite the work needs and Previn and the orchestra could deliver. But No.3 is excellent both as a recording and performance.

Posted on 7 Feb 2014, 10:53:52 GMT
I used to love a relatively unsophisticated but utterly wholehearted version of the 2nd Piano Concerto by Yuri Boukoff and still regret part-exing the LP in question. I have Ashkenazy in the 2nd Symph.and love that. Ditto his version of the Preludes wearing his other hat, and Howard Shelley's readings of the two sonatas (the First Sonata is a special favourite of mine) and some early miscellaneous pieces.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Feb 2014, 11:42:20 GMT
Mondoro says:
I started off with a severely edited 2nd Symphony LP by a conductor and orchestra I'm glad to have forgotten. My CD version was the Pickwick with the LSO and Rozhdestvensky which I have been happy with, though I have seen the RLPO and Petrenko in concert and will be checking up on their recent recordings of this and the other symphonies.

Posted on 7 Feb 2014, 12:05:14 GMT
The first Rach I got was the 1st and 2nd piano concerto with K. Zimerman and Ozawa and it is still my favorite disc - considering both repertoire and recording.

I also like the Preludes by Steven Osbourne on Hyperion, but don't have other recordings.

The Cello Sonata is great too. I like Ashkenazy and Harrell.

I have a disc with nothing but different arrangements of the Vocalise:
Vocalise
if you are as thick skinned musically as your correspondent it's lovely.

I didn't like the third Piano Concerto before I heard the live 1978 Horowitz with Ormandy.

I'm new to the piano trios but like them so far.

I don't have the symphonies or the Vespers.

Posted on 7 Feb 2014, 12:16:13 GMT
Good call on the Cello Sonata, a piece which (I've always thought) should be as popular as any he wrote. I have Fedor Luzanov on cello and none other than Evgeny Svetlanov as his highly accomplished piano partner on Russian Disc, and it's a definite candidate for my desert island.

Posted on 7 Feb 2014, 14:01:19 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Feb 2014, 16:23:06 GMT
JayJayDee says:
oh yes, the Piano Trios.
The Kogan/Svetlanov/Luzanov wins it for me.
Rachmaninov: Piano Trio, No. 2, Op.9

[[ Oh look...what do we have here >>>> a compulsive negative voter? or one who knows nothing about good Rachmaninov performances >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>]]

Posted on 7 Feb 2014, 16:37:41 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Feb 2014, 16:41:51 GMT
scarecrow says:
I'm four-square with Rasmus.all the references. . .I'd add. . .

Lugansky for the younger generation. .

Murray Perahia is wondrous with the " Etudes Tableaux";
certainly also Richter and the "Preludes" he always sees more than others

Richter had this "subterranean" line to Rachmaninov to Prokofiev,Read his "Diaries",also a film. . . that he was closer to Rachmaninov than he would admit. I believe this as well. . Prokofiev thought his music always popped from an original stream, when nothing could be further from the truth. .He was our first post-modernist. . .
Stravinsky was also a tremendous influence, listen to Prokofiev's "Scythian Suite"' That was a Diaghliev commission that never found production, only later.

Posted on 7 Feb 2014, 22:35:22 GMT
MacDoom says:
Rachmaniov playing his own works in reasonably modern digital recordings (via piano rolls) is not to be missed.
Rachmaninov: Solo Piano Works, A Window in Time

I never had issues with the sound of the Previn symphonies. I did lose the disc with the second from the box (no idea how, but probably when my CD changr was stolen from the car with twelve treasures aboard) but I've since replaced it with a remastered version. Still sounds great.

The Bells I have by Ashkenazy, and a great job it is. It's also available by Previn, but I've never heard it (coupled with Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky).

For the piano music, Howard Shelley is my man, but in the concertos Mikhail Rudy is also wonderful.

The piano trios haven't convinced me overmuch - time to listen once again.

For the songs, there is a great set with a number of varying singers all accompanied by Howard Shelley on Chandos, but they can also be had in their entirety by Söderström and Ashkenazy. Both offer blissful experiences, but I must admit I prefer the variety of the different voices - it is 4 CDs after all.

As to the vespers: Matthew Best is my preferred option, even if otheres may have more impressively low bases.

Posted on 8 Feb 2014, 08:20:27 GMT
enthusiast says:
I have always enjoyed Previn's recording of the 3rd Symphony and of the Symphonic Dances and these remain favourites of mine. I agree (with Nick, I think) about Svetlanov on Symphony 1. For 2 I like Gergiev's LSO Live recording and also treasure an account by Rozhdestvensky. I am not the biggest fan of the piano concertos. I do like the Cello Sonata - I have the recording by Chaushian and Subdin. It may be that I do not take Rachmaninov as seriously as some of us here and I would not place him with, say, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Bartok. But I agree that he wrote a lot of distinctive and attractive music.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Feb 2014, 15:04:32 GMT
Nice to agree with you on this one, scarecrow!
And nice to see that you aren't too "modern" to like Rachmaninov. :)

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Feb 2014, 16:25:55 GMT
JayJayDee says:
I listened to Mikhail Rudy's PC1 + PC2 today and they are indeed very good. Excellent accompaniment by Jansons.

Martin Frost delivers a wonderful arrangement of the Vocalise with Roland Pontinen ...Various: Frost and Friends (Scriabin: Prelude/ J.S.Bach/ Gounod: Ave Maria/ J.S. Bach: Presto)

Posted on 12 Feb 2014, 16:57:33 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Feb 2014, 17:19:36 GMT
My first Rachmaninov disc (and the one that is imprinted) was an LP of the 2nd Symphony from a relatively unexpected source - Boult and the LPO; it is in wonderful RCA Orthophonic sound! I wish it was available on CD - I still have the LP and a not entirely satisfactory mp3 download.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Feb 2014, 18:20:44 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Feb 2014, 18:36:54 GMT
scarecrow says:
Rasmus,
I try to see the best in most; life's too short otherwise. . .I'm not a Boulez-o-file; where the torch of modernity is carried by a select few. . . .As I said Richter for me always sees more;and Perahia has a good sense of scale, the overall construction of this music as Richter. . .in fact for Rachmaninov it 's trap to over-sentimentalize. .leave that to Hollywood. . . .

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Feb 2014, 22:07:39 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Feb 2014, 22:08:52 GMT
D. M. Ohara says:
My first Rachmaninoff LP was also conducted by Boult!
It was the second piano concerto played by Clifford Curzon - way back in the 1950s.
In those days one could listen to LPs in the shop before buying, and I well recall listening to Curzon [on Decca] and Moiseiwitsch [on HMV], and deciding on the Curzon.

Posted on 15 Feb 2014, 07:33:15 GMT
JayJayDee says:
I suppose Rachmaninov is not to blame for Hollywood adopting trademarks and developing cliches. And I guess Messiaen is not to blame for Tom and jerry Traipsing up and down steps.
But Disney is certainly to blame for the Sorceror's Apprentice!
;-)

Posted on 17 Feb 2014, 18:23:08 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Feb 2014, 20:14:06 GMT
JayJayDee says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 15 Oct 2014, 23:22:39 BST
Edgar Self says:
Catching up on threads I missed while off, I saw Harry's mention of Luzanov and Yevgeny Svetlanov's record of Rachmaninoff's cello sonata. Svetlanov was an uncommonly good pianist, with several CDs of solo piano and chamber music by Nikolai Medtner and Rachmaninoff on the Russian Disc label, good sound, well recorded. He's the best on Medtner's great Skazka in B-flat minor Op.20/1 I've heard, includingMedtner's own.

Svetlano also recorded his own concerto as piano soloist, but I found it mono-thematic and disappointing, but I like hispiano playing very much. And he was not a bad conductor either.

Richter, Horowitz, Rustem Hayroudinoff on Chandos, Lugansky, Moiseiwitsch,and Rachmaninoff himself are the pianists I like to hear. Also Earl Wild, especially his own transcriptions of the songs, and even Rubinstein, who didn't care for Rachmaniinoff but recorded a find second concertok, more than once, and THEprelude.
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Participants:  11
Total posts:  18
Initial post:  7 Feb 2014
Latest post:  15 Oct 2014

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