on 10 March 2012
Judy Spotheim's review is very pertinent. I've never visited Amsterdam and so have never experienced a performance at the Concertgebouw, but this recording is so perfectly and brilliantly produced that I can imagine I know what it would be like to be sitting in the middle of the hall listening to Ashkenazy, Haitink et al. Disbelief is suspended. What more can you ask of a recording? This CD could serve as a demonstration of what can be achieved by expert, experienced and thoughtful engineering and production, which is to say that the listener forgets all about engineering and production and sound quality because he/she is transported emotionally and mentally to the world described by Rachmaninov and rendered so brilliantly by Ashkenazy, Haitink and the players of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Ashkenazy's playing is lyrical and luminous, the tones of the piano and the other instruments are rich and vivid, the performers are present before you so distinctly that the soundscape seems layered and all encompassing.
I have several other recordings of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 but this is the one that has the blend of interpretation, performance and presentation that is so irresistable, distinctive and atmospheric as to not only be immediately recognisable, but also supremely appealing.
on 11 January 2010
This recording of Rachmaninov's 2nd concerto, played by Ashkenazy/Haitink, is slowly paced and beautifully played, but lacks the intensity of the previous recordings with Kondrashin and Previn, particularly in the outer movements.
4th concerto, on the other hand, proves to be a great performance, played with the wonderful rapport between the pianist and Haitink/RCO, bringging out the deep lyricism of the music like no other recordings.
on 3 February 2011
This recording of Rachmaninov's 2nd concerto, played by Ashkenazy/Haitink, is nimbly paced and beautifully played, IT DOES NOT lacks any intensity and is far, far better affair than a previous recordings with Kondrashin (which is almost coming to a halt with those stretched temi and recorded-wise muffled passages) and it surpasses the one with Previn, particularly in the outer movements.
The 4th concerto, proves to be a great performance, played with the wonderful rapport between the pianist and Haitink/Concertgebouw, bringing out the deep lyricism of the music like no other recordings.
The recording itself (DDD) is crisp, clear, lucid, dynamic, and has the blend between the orchestra an the soloist while retaining the orchestral colors, grouping and details even at tutti forte-forte passages thanks to cleaver engineering by Mr. Colin Moorfoot - who was responsible for all of Ashkenazy recordings at the Concertgebouw for Decca (and as a bonus of sorts you get glimpses into the acoustics of the Concertgebouw Amsterdam).
It is a highly recommended modern Rachmaninoff's second and fourth piano concertos recording and it surpasses all what Ashkenazy did previously (including the series with Previn/London.