Search - Sergey Rachmaninov, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Herbert von Karajan :: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2; Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1

Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2; Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
Sergey Rachmaninov, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Herbert von Karajan
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2; Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
Genre: Classical
 
Although the late Sviatoslav Richter spent his later years concentrating on Bach, Beethoven, and Haydn, he never completely abandoned the music of his native country. His reading of Rachmaninov's most popular concerto, cap...  more »

      
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Amazon.com essential recording
Although the late Sviatoslav Richter spent his later years concentrating on Bach, Beethoven, and Haydn, he never completely abandoned the music of his native country. His reading of Rachmaninov's most popular concerto, captured in fine late-'50s stereo, is one of the most glorious ever recorded. Richter's amazing technique is completely up to the demands of Rachmaninov's difficult writing, and he plays the heart-on-sleeve melodies with such refined intensity that they never sound sentimental. This performance is a truly amazing example of great pianism, very strongly supported by the fine orchestra and its little-known conductor. Unfortunately, the accompanying Tchaikovsky is a dud. Karajan and Richter recorded this work together as a favor to a record-company executive, but they don't seem to be in sympathy. The conductor's excessive refinement holds the pianist back, and the result is much too restrained for the music. Never mind. The Rachmaninov alone is easily worth the price of this disc. --Leslie Gerber

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CD Reviews

Great performance, poor remastering
Lynn H. Lander | NJ USA | 02/18/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Previous reviews extoll the virtues of Richter's performance, and indeed it is magnificent. Unfortunately, the remastering of this recording did not produce a quality result. The dynamics are poor, resulting in fuzzy strings, and horns and a less than vibrant sound from Richter's piano. There is no sense of "presence". This is a valuable recording for those with two or more copies of the Rach 2, who want this one as a historic performance or for collectors of Richter. If this is your first copy and you have a decent sound system, steer clear."
Richter's version of Rachmaninov's Second is the one all oth
dv_forever | Michigan, USA | 09/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The great Russian pianist took up the cause for Rachmaninov's at the time much-maligned works. I'm an enthusiast of modern music but I can't resist the warmth of the Romantics either. In our hearts, I think more people have a Romantic sensibilily than a Modernist one.

The second of Rachmaninov's concertos is one of his most famous works and one of the most lushy and slushy in the Romantic piano/orchestral repertoire. The concerto was prominently featured in the David Lean romance "Brief Encounter". Obviously they didn't use this Richter recording since it didn't exist yet.

From the grave opening to the stunning slow movement and the scintillating energy of the finale, this recording has Richter delivering the goods for the benefit of his Russian countryman's music. Listen especially to the last 2 and a half minutes of the slow movement, Richter plays with such raptness and feeling, it is heart melting and dreamy. Guaranteed to drown you in beautiful sound! I haven't heard anyone else play with such understanding. If you want a comparison recording, try Van Cliburn with Fritz Reiner. It's another great performance but not as good as Richter's. The conductor working with Richter is Stanislaw Wislocki and he leads the orchestra from Warsaw.

The coupling on this CD is Tchaikovsky's 1st, a concerto that is even more famous than the Rachmaninov. Unfortunately Richter and the great Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan did not see eye to eye in matters of interpretation. Karajan, conducting the Vienna Symphony ( not the Philharmonic! ) goes for the long line, the lush texture, the grand backcloth. Richter goes for more energy, trying to break free of Karajan's pompous orchestral back up. I love Karajan as a conductor but he doesn't collaborate well with instrumental soloists usually. It's a strange performance that doesn't compete with the more famous accounts of this masterpiece. But that does not matter, if you want the best recording of Rachmaninov's 2nd concerto, this CD is it.

Another reviewer accused this recording to be in poor sound. I can't understand his opinion. The sound for 1959 ( the Rachmaninov 2nd ) is terrific and the Original Image Bit-Processing remastering job from DG has given it extra depth and bass, which is a major plus. I don't find any reservations here, this is great. A must purchase for Richter enthusiasts!"