Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

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maestrob
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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by maestrob » Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:02 am

Fascinating! Thank-you! I have always used Ormandy's stereo recording w/Philadelphia Orchestra as my benchmark for this piece. At $54 for 3 CDs it's not cheap, but, like Elgar's "stereo" recording of his Cello Concerto, well worth having!

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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by Lance » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:20 pm

This looks like a wonderful discovery. Something I will have to have, eventually.
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Rach3
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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by Rach3 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 3:37 pm

A taste, posted by Mark Ainley:

https://youtu.be/L3Xp2Djqh3s

John F
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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by John F » Mon Aug 13, 2018 3:47 pm

Was this the same occasion on which Rachmaninoff and Nadezhda Plevitskaya recorded "Powder and Paint"? Until now, that was the only non-studio recording of Rachmaninoff playing.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mcnNDZPvgI
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Rach3
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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by Rach3 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:57 pm

John F wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 3:47 pm
Was this the same occasion on which Rachmaninoff and Nadezhda Plevitskaya recorded "Powder and Paint"?
Per the Marston track listing at the earlier link:

6. Belilitsï rumyanitsï, vy moi (Powder and Paint) (Russian folk song, arranged by Rachmaninoff) 3:50
Nadezhda Plevitskaya, mezzo soprano, with Sergei Rachmaninoff, piano
Victor Talking Machine Company private recording, made for the composer

22 February 1926, New York City

(Note: This song was used as the third of Rachmaninoff’s “Three Russian Songs for Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 41.” The Victor recording logs give the title as “Powder and Paint”)

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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by John F » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:44 pm

Thanks!
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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by living_stradivarius » Wed Aug 15, 2018 10:11 pm

A fine discovery. :idea:
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jserraglio
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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by jserraglio » Sat Aug 25, 2018 4:02 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHtfVi4T1sQ



Composer-pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff recorded his Second Piano Concerto on April 10 & 13, 1929 with Leopold Stokowski leading the Philadelphia Orchestra. As was the custom at the time of 78rpm discs, which did not allow for precision editing (every 4-to-5-minute segment was recorded 'as is'), multiple versions were made of each 'side' so that the best of each could be chosen for the commercial release, which in the case of concertos usually consisted of four or five two-sided records (for this work, it was five discs comprising ten 'takes').

It seems that RCA had, starting in the 1940s, been repressing earlier recordings from their catalogue using occasional alternate takes instead of those approved by the artists and used in earlier pressings, apparently doing so to avoid overusing the 'master' metal stamper. In the case of this Rachmaninoff recording, it became apparent in the 1980s that 9 out of the 10 sides making up the entire performance used alternate takes in all rereleases of the reading from the 1940s right through to the LP era - amazingly including not only the initial 1950s LP transfers on RCA but also their 1973 centenary The Complete Rachmaninoff collection. Incredibly, the first long-playing release of the approved takes was RCA's 1987 CD release!

Mark Obert-Thorn revealed this information when he produced a mastering of the alternate reading on CD for the Biddulph label in 1997, from which this current upload derives. He has now remastered it and released it on the Pristine Classical label, together with the originally approved reading and a *third alternate take. Available for purchase (as a CD or digital download) here, along with more details about the confusing situation pertaining to the alternate takes in the Producer's Note tab.

RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor
The legendary 1929 recording in two different versions
and an additional alternate take

Recorded in 1929
Total duration: 66:39

Sergei Rachmaninov piano
The Philadelphia Orchestra
conducted by Leopold Stokowski


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John F
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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by John F » Sat Aug 25, 2018 4:37 am

jserraglio wrote:RCA had, starting in the 1940s, been repressing earlier recordings from their catalogue using occasional alternate takes instead of those approved by the artists and used in earlier pressings
The best-known example, widely mentioned in books about Toscanini's recordings, is the first side of his famous and best-selling Beethoven 7th symphony with the New York Philharmonic,containing the slow introduction to the first movement. The originally published take 1 is quite slow, agreeing with the tempo of his concert performance a few days earlier, but in 1943 RCA Victor replaced it with take 2, made in the same recording session but considerably faster, as in Toscanini's later recording with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Whether Toscanini approved the substitution or even knew about it, even Harvey Sachs doesn't say.

This wasn't the only time that Toscanini took quite different tempos in the same music at about the same time. In the love scene in Berlioz's "Romeo and Juliet," he conducted it at a much faster tempo in the 1947 studio recording than in the concert performance 8 days earlier. Leonard Bernstein pointed this out to him, and in a letter to Bernstein confirming this, Toscanini wrote, "I confirm also another fact - namely that every man [...] can be from time to time a little stupid. So is the case of the old Toscanini." This from Harvey Sachs's biography of Toscanini. It's possible he went faster in the recording session so the movement wouldn't go to a fourth 78 rpm side. But Toscanini didn't say which tempo he preferred.
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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by jserraglio » Sat Aug 25, 2018 7:03 am

I have been holding marathon Toscanini listening sessions of 18 complete live concerts from 1938-44 (TT: 26+ hours). Many of these performances seem quite different and preferable to his later live concerts issued commercially. Case in point: a LvB 5th from October 22, 1938.

maestrob
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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by maestrob » Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:47 am

Perhaps Toscanini had other motives for changing his tempi, due to the differing acoustics of Carnegie Hall and Studio 8H. IN Carnegie, he could let the orchestra play a bit more expansively with Carnegie's longer reverb time, while Studio 8H was quite dry and tighter sounding.

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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by jserraglio » Sat Aug 25, 2018 11:20 am

maestrob wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:47 am
Perhaps Toscanini had other motives for changing his tempi, due to the differing acoustics of Carnegie Hall and Studio 8H. IN Carnegie, he could let the orchestra play a bit more expansively with Carnegie's longer reverb time, while Studio 8H was quite dry and tighter sounding.
The ones I am listening to pre-date the NBCSO's move to Carnegie Hall in 1940. These are Studio 8H performances, but they are committed and emotionally involving and the sound is pretty good too.

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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by John F » Sat Aug 25, 2018 2:09 pm

maestrob wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:47 am
Perhaps Toscanini had other motives for changing his tempi, due to the differing acoustics of Carnegie Hall and Studio 8H.
That could well be in general, but it doesn't apply to the Beethoven 7th. The concert and the recording sessions were in Carnegie Hall, and while the acoustics of Carnegie full and empty were doubtless different, the concert performance and recording are in the same tempos. The two takes of side 1 were recorded the same day and probably one right after the other. Either Toscanini changed his mind on the spur of the moment - in which case, why was the first take not rejected? - or he was somehow unaware that he was changing the tempo.

As for the Berelioz, the Love Scene was part of a complete 1947 broadcast of the "symphony" from Studio 8H that RCA Victor later published. Eight days later it was recorded in Carnegie Hall. One might expect the latter to have the more "expansive" tempo, because of Carnegie's resonant acoustics, but actually it was much faster than the Studio 8H broadcast. Again, either Toscanini changed his mind or he was unaware that he conducted the same music differently on different days. From his comment, I believe it was probably the latter, and he felt a little ashamed about it.
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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by CharmNewton » Mon Aug 27, 2018 12:59 am

Robert C. Marsh, longtime music critic of the Chicag0 Sun-Times, on p. 134 of his book Toscanini and the Art of Conducting wrote about the 1936 Beethoven 7th: "... The best statement of Toscanini's performance is the 1936 set as originally issued, that is, with the opening pages taken slowly and majestically. Unfortunately, the master of the first side became worn, probably due to the process of making stampers, and a second master from the same recording session but with more rapid tempi was substituted with Toscanini's approval. It is in this form that the set was transferred to long play. I think the slower version was right, although the slightly faster one is tremendously effective as well."

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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by John F » Mon Aug 27, 2018 3:48 am

Thanks! That answers one question about the substitution, that Toscanini did know about it and approved it. Other questions remain, chiefly how Toscanini came to record the same music in two different tempos in the space of maybe half an hour, but since everyone involved is now dead, they'll probably remain unanswered.
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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by Rach3 » Wed Aug 29, 2018 11:28 am

From Marston Records newsletter today:

"The response to our upcoming release Rachmaninoff Plays Symphonic Dances has been overwhelming, and our sincerest thanks to all of you who have purchased this incredibly significant set. In addition to our Preferred Customer sales, we have sold over 350 more copies, many to customers reading about this project on social media. In a few weeks there will be several articles and ads including a Wall Street Journal feature. We hope and expect another avalanche of sales. So as someone who is receiving this email prior to this additional publicity, we recommend that if you want this set, you act now as quantities are limited."

I believe they usually produce 1000 sets of each they issue.

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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by CharmNewton » Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:08 am

John F wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 3:48 am
Thanks! That answers one question about the substitution, that Toscanini did know about it and approved it. Other questions remain, chiefly how Toscanini came to record the same music in two different tempos in the space of maybe half an hour, but since everyone involved is now dead, they'll probably remain unanswered.
I have (I hope it isn't had) a pretty nice early copy of this set on 78 RPM discs, but can't locate the set at the moment. I was going to play Side 1 to learn its total timing--I remember it being a pretty long side. Take 1 is easily distinguished from Take 2 by the very small label on the former (a friend referred to it as a "silver dollar" label). I also wanted to see if RCA recorded the performance continuously, with some overlap between the sides. Toscanini did not like to stop every 4 minutes or so, and recording continuously made him happier with a process he did not like. But it required using two disc cutters to insure nothing was lost and thus not available to make a backup, just-in-case copy of the take.

The Naxos transfer of this performance presents the first movement complete with both Take 1 and Take 2 allowing the listener to choose their preference. The timing difference between the movements is 23 seconds, which is a huge difference for a 78 RPM side. Perhaps Take 2 was made at the request of the producer and/or engineers anticipating there might be problems with the longer Take 1 either in manufacturing or playback.

It turns out that RCA's Toscanini Edition CD of this performance, transferred by Ward Marston, uses Take 2.

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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by John F » Thu Aug 30, 2018 5:34 am

For those who want to hear for themselves, this transfer of side 1, which runs from the beginning to the fermata, take 1 is used. Timing: 4:58.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRi46iB85oU&t=692s

At that tempo, Toscanini was in danger of overrunning the functional length of a 12" 78 rpm side, making the take unusable. It's very likely that the producer/recording engineer warned him about this before take 2, and Toscanini compensated. Here is take 2; timing = 4:39.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcD-B_5GU8E

So what really was Toscanini's preferred tempo? I've been provided with an aircheck of the concert performance a few days before the recording session, and the timing for the same music is 4:48. :roll:
CharmNewton wrote:I also wanted to see if RCA recorded the performance continuously, with some overlap between the sides.
No, RCA Victor recorded the music side by side until tape recording replaced direct-to-disc. They did publish a couple of Toscanini's NBC Symphony broadcasts on 78s, and these of course were recorded continuously and then divided into sides. They are the Eroica Symphony of Oct. 28, 1939 and the Leonore Overture No. 3 of Nov. 4. But these weren't very satisfactory; there's a notorious cough from the audience between the opening chords of the Eroica. So they soon went back to recording sessions, and Toscanini was only able to record continuously when tape recording came in.

By the way, the side break at the fermata is such that when making a continuous transfer, the rerecording engineer has to decide on the length of the pause if any - in effect, to "conduct" that brief moment of the symphony. When making my own transfer, I made a perceptible pause, not much but just right (to my ears of course). The RCA engineer left no pause at all. And listening to the aircheck of the live performance, neither did Toscanini. I guessed wrong.
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Re: Newly discovered Rachmaninoff recording of his " Dances"

Post by John F » Fri Aug 31, 2018 3:34 pm

A review of the Rachmaninoff recording in The Gramophone:

Important Rachmaninov recording discovered
Tim Parry
28th August 2018

Rachmaninov refused to allow his live performances to be recorded or broadcast; the recordings we have of him were all made under tightly controlled studio conditions. So the discovery of a recording of the great composer and pianist playing through his recently composed Symphonic Dances – almost certainly recorded covertly, literally behind the pianist’s back – is a major landmark.

Marston Records is now issuing this impromptu performance, a vitally important document. Rachmaninov was part of a gathering with the conductor Eugene Ormandy, to whom the Symphonic Dances are dedicated and who was soon to give the premiere, and sat at the piano to play the piece through. The work was complete in short score, which formed the basis of the two‑piano version, but its orchestration was still a work in progress. This occasion, probably at Ormandy’s home, was recorded on two double-sided 10-inch acetate discs, and these were discovered in the Eugene Ormandy Collection of Test Pressings and Private Recordings, now held at the University of Pennsylvania.

The performance isn’t quite complete, and Rachmaninov didn’t play through the work in sequence. It is presented in two versions, one edited to follow the order of the score, the other exactly as it was recorded, with the composer jumping from place to place as he demonstrated. The three-disc set also includes other significant performances, including Dimitri Mitropoulos’s account of the orchestral version of the Symphonic Dances, which was prepared in Rachmaninov’s presence and met with his approval.

When Rachmaninov proposed to his record label, RCA Victor, that he record his Symphonic Dances and Second Suite for two pianos with Vladimir Horowitz, the label astonishingly rejected the idea. Many have long been bewildered by that decision, and what was lost to posterity. This fascinating new discovery offers ample compensation.

https://www.gramophone.co.uk/classical- ... discovered
John Francis

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