"Don't be fooled by the "Essential Classics" and budget price on this disc; as recently as 3 - 4 years ago this was a full-price recording made in the early 1990s. Sony deserves much praise for making this very competitive recording available in a re-issue.I concur with other reviewers. This disc is a compelling issue among the crowded field of these two concertos. The recording of the 2nd, in my view, is the best I have heard (easily standing among those of Ashkenazy, LSO or Andrei Gavrilov, Philadelphia).The recording of the 3rd has the most striking conclusion of any version I have heard. Bronfman has a weighty and powerful approach to the music in both recordings. It was heartening to see in the early 90s, when this recording, was issued, that Bronfman and Salonen forged a pianist-conductor team reminiscent of some of the previous great duos (Previn-Ashkenazy, Horenstein-Wild, etc.) who recorded these pieces over the years.I strongly recommend this disc."
One of the Best
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 12/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I recently wrote reviews of Stephen Hough's performances of the two concertos contained here, I was asked by a friend if I had ever heard Bronfman's recordings of them. I hadn't, although I had heard him play the Third live and knew that he was a terrific pianist who is also a musician. But now that I have heard these performances, I'm willing to state that these, too, are among the best recordings available. Bronfman is not a pianist who startles with new ideas or unusual gimmicks, but he not only has the technique to play the notes, he has the heart to play the music contained in those notes. Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia are simpatico accompanists.
So, this means that these recordings go into that highest category of recorded Rachy concerti. And I thank my friend for putting me on to them. What a wonderful age we live in when there are so many fine pianists, conductors and orchestras making recordings such as these! And when you realize that these recordings are offered at super-bargain price, there's no excuse for not owning them.
It doesn't get much better than this
A. Fondacaro | Austin, TX | 01/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bronfman is one of my absolute favorite contemporary pianists, and this album is the main reason why, the other reason was his visit to Cincinnati Symphony a year ago with an absolutely flawless performance.This recording does every bit of the "Rach three" justice and then some. Bronfman handles the transitions in the first movement between the fortissimo and pianissimo parts with the most natural expressionism I think I've heard. I've heard a lot of criticism from others that his choice to use the alternate cadenzas (written by Rachmaninoff after the fact) sort of cheapens the recording, as the only real "Rach three" is the original composition with the original cadenzas (incidentally, I have a Telarc recording of Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff with him playing the original cadenzas, and I like the alternate). The problem I have with that criticism is that Bronfman unleashes some wicked wrath on the piano when he gets to the cadenzas that you can't help but lose every thought in your head. And then, with seemingly no strain, he goes from "fff" to "ppp" like he was born to do it. He pulls off the same prodigiousness on the 2nd concerto, setting the brooding mood early and typically acting like a genius throughout.I guess I just too many good things to say about Bronfman. He's coming back to Cincy in May, and you'll bet I'll be in the front row."
Simply the best.
H. Hou | Rochester, NY USA | 07/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I began learning Rach 2, this was the only CD I owned of the concerto, and it was old enough to still have the original cover (I was disappointed to find this reissue when I bought a new copy to replace my scratched one. At least it was cheaper). And now that I've collected at least 6 other versions of each of those concertos (i.e. Ashkenazy, Richter, Pletnev, Kapell, Argerich, Rachmaninoff himself, etc.), it still strikes me as the best of all. Pletnev is the only one who comes close with his sparkling playing of Rach 3, especially in the "harder" cadenza, but I still prefer Bronfman. In fact, he's become one of my all-around favorite pianists.What makes this recording so amazing? Well, first and foremost, the amazing teamwork done by Bronfman and Salonen. Having struggled with an orchestra and left it in the dust and left in the dust in turn, I greatly appreciate how together the piano and orchestra are at all times. Bronfman also does a wonderful job with rubato, a Rachmaninoff essential. For example, he does what I've come to expect in a Rachmaninoff ending: accelerating until the very last chords, played very rhythmically. The fact that his technique is virtually flawless doesn't hurt, either. In fact, my only nitpick is the fact that he misses some of the octaves at the top of a couple of passages, which make for a moment of discomfort. Of course, compared to several messy performances, it's about as perfect as Rachmaninoff can get.If you enjoy virtuosic piano playing, this is one of the discs you absolutely have to own. Also look into Bronfman and Emanuel Ax playing the Symphonic Dances and 2 Piano Suites of Rachmaninoff."