Melvyn M. Sobel | Freeport (Long Island), New York | 09/03/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's enterprising and, of course, completely logical to program the early piano efforts of Rachmaninov (or Rachmaninoff--- why don't editors make up their minds!) in such a concise and accessible manner and, as well, to continue the Arabesque series with Ian Hobson, whose exceptional sensitivity and panache add undeniable consummate authority. It's rare that production design with such foresight takes the interests of the listener to heart. I suspect that most of these Rachmaninov works, with the exception of a popular few (e.g. Melody, Op. 3, No. 3), will be first hearings. Certainly, the influence of Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Rubinstein, Arensky, Borodin and even Schubert (e.g. the Moments Musicaux homage) can be detected without too much effort; but be that as it may, there are numerous insightful and progressive compositional elements noticeable throughout that more than hint at the glories of Rachmaninov's later Preludes, Etudes-tableaux, Sonatas and Variations. Doubtless, this "juvenilia" written between 1892-96 holds as many gems as it does rhinestones; however uneven though, the traversal is rewarding and its glimpse of the composer's seedling ideas are immediately appealing. Good, clear sound.[Running time: 71:18]"