First Pick: Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos

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12tone
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First Pick: Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos

Post by 12tone » Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:11 pm

The only recording I have is of concertos 2 & 3 with Tamas Vasary (piano) and the LSO under Yuri Ahronovitch.

The sound it okay and the playing is okay...but things could be better I'm sure. These two concertos are my favorite. I had downloaded all four before and while all four are good, these two are my favorites.

Werner
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Post by Werner » Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:28 pm

Of course, the second and third concerto are ther general facvorites, so you're in the mainstream there.

If you want to have the entire set, why not start with Rachmaninoff's own? he did them with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ormandy and Stokowski conducting. Sure, there are more recent and more up to ate wersions, sonically speaking, but there is certainly no greater authority.
Werner Isler

12tone
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Post by 12tone » Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:35 pm

Werner wrote:Of course, the second and third concerto are ther general facvorites, so you're in the mainstream there.

If you want to have the entire set, why not start with Rachmaninoff's own? he did them with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ormandy and Stokowski conducting. Sure, there are more recent and more up to ate wersions, sonically speaking, but there is certainly no greater authority.
There's a recording of Rach doing his own recording?? That must be the watermark :o ... amidst The Kellogg's Cereal Pops Orchestra :D

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Post by dirkronk » Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:53 pm

The only complete set that really thrills me is the Earl Wild/Horenstein/RPO, which has been put out by...let's see, originally Readers' Digest in the early 1960s, then Quintessence, then Chesky on vinyl, later Chesky and Chandos (and someone else?) on CD. I have early pressings of the original RD box and have never heard the sonics bettered. Don't let the date of the recordings fool you; these have been audiophile must-haves for years, and for good reason. But it's the performance quality that keeps me satisfied with the set.

BTW, I also own and on rare occasions actually listen to Ashkenazy. Good--very good, actually--but I'll still take Wild first, thanks.

And there are some single performances that should definitely be heard:
Richter/Wislocki on DGG for the 2nd. Classic.
If that isn't your cup of tea, try Cliburn/Reiner, also in the 2nd on RCA.
Kapell did versions of the 2nd, 3rd (live/noncommercial), and Pag Rhapsody and they're all wonderful, though all mono.
Byron Janis also did superb versions of various Rach concerti, some for Mercury, some for RCA. All are worth having and hearing--oh, and the sonics are particularly impressive on all of these.
Michelangeli's w/ Gracis conducting (EMI) is the one 4th to have if you're having only one--he makes it sound more like real, worthy music than any other player I've heard.

I've heard a few more recent recordings, but none that surpass the ones listed above. (No, I'm NOT going to comment on Lang Lang.)

Cheers,

Dirk

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Re: First Pick: Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos

Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Nov 11, 2005 3:09 pm

12tone wrote:The only recording I have is of concertos 2 & 3 with Tamas Vasary (piano) and the LSO under Yuri Ahronovitch.

The sound it okay and the playing is okay...but things could be better I'm sure. These two concertos are my favorite. I had downloaded all four before and while all four are good, these two are my favorites.
This is something really for Lance to address, but off the top of my head, I can think of at least 5 pianists whose versions I would pick before settling on Vasary:

Richter
Wild
Horowitz
Moiseiwitsch
Cliburn
Ashkenazy
Janis
Kapell
Argerich
and just for shits and grins, Gieseking

I can second Werner's recommendation but mostly as a curiosity, not a staple. Composers tend not to be the best interpreters of their own music.
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Donald Isler
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Re: First Pick: Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos

Post by Donald Isler » Fri Nov 11, 2005 3:22 pm

Corlyss wrote:

"Composers tend not to be the best interpreters of their own music."

Except that Rachmaninoff was one of the greatest pianists who ever lived, so I think he's an exception!
Donald Isler

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Re: First Pick: Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos

Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Nov 11, 2005 3:41 pm

Donald Isler wrote:Corlyss wrote:

"Composers tend not to be the best interpreters of their own music."

Except that Rachmaninoff was one of the greatest pianists who ever lived, so I think he's an exception!
Okay! Exception noted. Thanks, Donald. I've always been reluctant to try him because of the genearl rule.
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Re: First Pick: Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos

Post by Peter Schenkman » Fri Nov 11, 2005 3:42 pm

Donald Isler wrote:Corlyss wrote:

"Composers tend not to be the best interpreters of their own music."

Except that Rachmaninoff was one of the greatest pianists who ever lived, so I think he's an exception!
Rachmaninoff his next to impssiblel to top in his cycle on the Naxos label in superb transfers, but for Concerto No. 3, Horowitz in his many recordings is, to put it mildly, impressive. Richter in the first two concertos is also hard to top, as is Byron Janis in the first three. For the complete cycle Earl Wild in sort of contempory sound is probably the number one choice.

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Johnny
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Post by Johnny » Fri Nov 11, 2005 4:22 pm

Rachmaninoff is on the top tier of my favorite composers. I
have the Rach #2, SF Orch w/ Enrique Jorda, Rach #3 Boston
Symph w/Janis, and the Rhapsody by the BP w/Fiedler. These
are a sampling of many other recordings I have of the Master.

Listening to Rachmaninoff stirrs the passion within me. I cannot
seem to get enough of his music.

You can have the Russians, but I'll keep the music.


Thankya, thankya vera mush.
I live my life one note at a time.

Holden Fourth
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Post by Holden Fourth » Fri Nov 11, 2005 7:37 pm

Ignoring Rach himself my choices are

#1 Richter - I haven't heard anyboby else who comes close.

#2 Richter/Wislocki/Warsaw PO, Kapell/RHDO/Steinberg

#3 Gilels/Cluytens/Paris Conservatoire Orch, Horowitz/Toscanini/NBCSO

#4 ABM/Gracis/Philharmonia

Can we consider the Paganini Rhapsody a 5th Cto?

Von Helsing
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Post by Von Helsing » Sat Nov 12, 2005 4:30 am

My favourites:

#1: Zymmerman
#2: Ashkenazy
#3: Argerich
#4: Perceived wisdom says Michelangeli, but I'm not really fond of any version.

val
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Post by val » Sat Nov 12, 2005 6:40 am

Never heard the first and the 4th.

I have Janis with Dorati in the 2nd and the 3rd and Horowitz with Coates in the 3rd.
They are very good and, to me, more than enough.

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Post by pizza » Sat Nov 12, 2005 11:24 am

I agree with dirkronk that the original Wild/Horenstein recording is about the best complete set available, especially if you can find the original analog LPs.

For the 4th, however, I would not be without the Michelangeli/Gracis. It was one of those magic moments of recorded piano/orchestra history.

rogch
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Post by rogch » Sat Nov 12, 2005 12:02 pm

Ashkenazy has recorded these concertos a number of times, both as a pianist and condcuctor. My favourite recording of the third concerto is a recording with Ashkenazy from the early sixties re-released in Decca's "legendary preformances"-series (the sound is quite good). Ashkenazy has a very lyrical approach to the piece, not as fiery as many other recordings. But it made me love the work, earlier i had problems grasping it. The second concerto is also on the disc.

If you also want a more virtuoso recording of the third we always have the Ärgerich live recording, declared a classic almost from the day it was released. I don't like it as much as many others, but that can just be me. But i like it more now that i know the work well. It was the first recording i bought of the work, it was perhaps not the right one to start with, but that can be different for other people. But a nice alternative is Yefim Bronfman's recording with Esa-Pekka Salonen (coupled with the second concerto). A brilliant recording and a real bargain (it is part of the "essential classics"-series.)

I agree with those who recommend Michelangeli's recording of the fourth. And we mustn't forget that it is coupled with a breathtaking preformance of Maurice Ravel's piano concerto (the one for two hands).

I don't know the recordings of the first concerto that well. But i guess Zimmermann and the Boston PO will do nicely.
Roger Christensen

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Wallingford
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Post by Wallingford » Sat Nov 12, 2005 2:36 pm

Who else? The composer himself's tops in my book.

I do have an affection for a Second done by Kjell Baekkelund, w/Fjeldstad & the Oslo Phil. And I've always admired Philippe Entremont's First, Second & Fourth on Columbia......whyizzit he never recorded the Third? (Or can someone correct me on this point?)
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dirkronk
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Post by dirkronk » Tue Nov 15, 2005 10:37 am

Holden Fourth wrote: Can we consider the Paganini Rhapsody a 5th Cto?
Oh, for purposes of these discussions, I do think so. And I'll again mention Wild and Kapell--as well as mentions of two different Rubinstein recordings, a late 1940s (or is it early 1950s?) mono version and his later stereo version (though I'm not really a big Rubie fan, somehow his touch seems quite good to my ears in the Pag Rhapsody). There are one or two other good ones floating around out there, as well.
;-D


Cheers,

Dirk

Cyril Ignatius
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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Thu Nov 17, 2005 3:12 pm

I love Rachmaninov, although I certainly haven't heard a good number of the versions mentioned above. I have Volodos with Berlin on the Third and Yefim Bronman with the Philharmonia? on the Second and Third, both of these CDs seem excellent. Also Andrea Watts on the 2nd and 3rd. And I've heard others - as well as seeing Bronfman and Watts in live performances of these.
Cyril Ignatius

Kevin R
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Post by Kevin R » Fri Nov 18, 2005 4:01 am

So many great recordings have been listed. But no one has mentioned my favorite for the 3rd----Lazar Berman.
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Post by ch1525 » Sun Nov 20, 2005 1:28 am

Two recordings of Rachmaninoff's 3rd Piano Concerto that I enjoy although they seem to receive far less attention than those mentioned already are:

Santiago Rodriguez/Lake Forest Symphony/Paul Anthony McGrane on Elan Records

and

Vladimir Feltsman/Israel Philharmonic Orchestra/Zubin Mehta on Sony.

Of course, I would have to agree that Rachmaninoff's recordings of his own works would be the most crucial to a collection. He is not overly sentimental as many have grown used to hearing in his music and this may turn some listeners off to his recordings. The listener has to realize that this is how the composer intended the music to be played. There really is something quite extraordinary in listening to Rachmaninoff play.

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