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on 17 March 2017
Good performance of Rach 3 in an exceptionally quality of recording.
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on 2 October 2016
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on 3 September 2008
There has been many competent readings of this challenging concerto just as there has been a few exceptionally good readings but David Helfgott approaches this work with all the finesse of an elephant on speed! A truly awful performance that has to be heard to be believed. Like the previous reviewers wife, I was almost reduced to tears, tears of dispair!

For a more enjoyable experience look out for Evgeny Kissin, Vladimir Askenazy and Moura Lympany performances.
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on 27 October 2012
The contemporary classical world has a habit of making celebrities out of people who are less than first rate but have a good story to tell, especially one of courage and triumph over adversity. The tenor Andre Bocelli is a good example - a great story of courage over a tragic accident but a less than first rate opera singer. Helfgott's story is similar. Whatever the hotly-disputed 'facts' of the film 'Shine' he has remarkably triumphed over his mental illness to perform on stage once again. However, listening to this disc only convinces one of the inadequacies of his playing in this fiendishly demanding concerto. Some of it is really painful, especially when compared with the myriad of good pianists (and some of the really great ones) who have recorded this piece. To even compare Helfgott with the likes of Argerich, Horowitz and Janis (to name but three) is farcical, but that's what the recording company are asking us to do by issuing this recording. Better, perhaps, just to buy the soundtrack of 'Shine' as a momento and then listen to the momentus Rach 3 by a pianist who can really do it justice. Horowitz with Barbirolli is unbelievable but then so is Argerich with Chailly - and in much better sound.
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on 11 February 2004
I recently heard Freddy Kempf play this piece in Leeds Town Hall and was completely blown away. For some odd reason, Mr Kempf has not yet deemed his performance worthy of a CD release, so I thought (maybe carried away with the hype from 'Shine') that David Helfgott might do this piece justice (I particulary enjoyed his rendition of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 on 'Brilliantissimo').
How wrong I was. The climax of the first movement is absolutely ruined by bum notes, such that the performance sounds as if Helgott was replaced by a four-year-old playing on a clapped-out pianola.
And couldn't the piano have been miked up so that you can't hear Helfgotts heavy breathing/miscellaneous noises? It's extremely distracting and adds nothing to the performance.
But don't take my word for it - read the dozens of similar (and less forgiving) reviews on www.amazon.com.
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on 25 December 2006
I am thoroughly impressed by the silliness of the reviews here. 5 stars are awarded for a brilliant performance one for the lack of one. Of course everyone appears to be missing the point. They seem to be writing a critique of a concert pianist - without a mental illness! Of course these recordings suffer from the signs of his illness - and perhaps - his talent quite naturally - may have been overstated in the movie. However, for a mentally ill person - with - what seems to me - is a fairly severe disability - this is an incredible achievement. An undoubtedly - this was the main point of the movie - which it achieved brilliantly. This movie is a portrait of a gifted person with mental disability - and/or mentally ill person with a talent. Playing the pieces in these recordings requires a talent - ability to memorize, perform, organize and synthesize large and extremely complex pieces of music. Anyone capable of doing this has undoubtedly a great gift. To criticize David Helfgott -given the fact that we are aware of his mental condition - for not performing this music at the top world class performer level is completely insane....
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on 18 April 2002
I regret to say that this is a dreadful CD. Helfgott may once have been a precocious talent but this CD conveys none of that genius. The performance of the Piano Concerto sounds like a rehearsal. When the going gets tough, Helfgott appears to stick the pedal down and rush through all notes and hope that we won't miss the cacophony. There are an alarming number of mistakes. Alas, there is little to commend the other pieces. For example, the G# minor prelude is supposed to ripple along, with its swift yet gentle right hand accompaniment; it most certainly should not be played at the tedious and clumsy speed Helfgott adopts. A disappointing set of performances which were released off the back of the film Shine! but which fail to convince. For the reviewer who believed this is better than many of the recordings she has heard, I can recommend the legendary Martha Argerich recording, any of the Vladimir Ashkenazy recordings on Decca or the bristling recording by Eugeny Kissin. These provide an insight into the technical and emotional demands Rachmaninov makes on his performer.
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on 21 January 2003
David Helfgott was a child prodigy. If one were being kind, one would say his was unable to develop into a mature virtuoso pianist because of his own mental instability. The truth is, however, self-evident on listening to the awful recordings on this CD. The bulk of the disc is taken up with a recording of Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto. It is regarded as one of the most challenging pieces of music ever written, in terms of technique, stamina and interpretation. But it is also a beautiful piece of music, excellently crafted and, when heard at its best, breathtakingly exciting.
Helfgott displays none of the attributes necessary for a competent performance of this piece. Technically his attempt is substandard, and the recording conveys none of the magic that defines Rachmaninoff's music. Regrettably, Helfgott is no virtuoso. This is amply reflected in the other works on this CD, which are, unfortunately, hopelessly amateurish. This CD is enough to misrepresent Rachmaninoff's music entirely. Don't be misled.
Instead, there are some great recordings of the Third Concerto, the most famous perhaps being Argerich's live performance and Van Cliburn's. If one were to want to appreciate just what a tour de force this is, I commend those recordings, or those of Vladimir Ashkenazy or Rachmaninoff himself.
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What a nice recording of Rachmaninoff. Helfgott plays the piano really rather nicely, even if he isn't a particularly accomplished professional pianist but more of an enthusiast.
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on 24 May 2015
I am no musician. All I know is that this performance gives me goose bumps. Faults or no faults you can't miss the love;
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