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Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3


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Product Details

  • Composer: Rachmaninov
  • Audio CD (July 1 1999)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nh
  • ASIN: B000026B8F
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #65,163 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Piano Concerto No. 2 In C Minor, Op. 18: Moderato - Allegro
2. Piano Concerto No. 2 In C Minor, Op. 18: Adagio sostenuto
3. Piano Concerto No. 2 In C Minor, Op. 18: Allegro scherzando
4. Piano Concerto No. 3 In D Minor, Op. 30: Allegro ma non tanto
5. Piano Concerto No. 3 In D Minor, Op. 30: Intermezzo: Adagio
6. Piano Concerto No. 3 In D Minor, Op. 30: Finale: Alla breve

Product Description

Serge Rachmaninov, piano - Philadelphia Orchestra, dir. Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy

Customer Reviews

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By Mr. A on July 4 2001
Format: Audio CD
This is definitive playing of magnificent music. Rachmaninoff himself is the pianist on these recordings from 1929 and 1939-40.
This new remastering of these classic recordings, by sound engineer Mark Obert-Thorn, is superior to RCA's remastering released about 10 years ago. The fullness and bloom of the orchestra here is great; you will hear details that you can't hear on RCA's release, which now sounds rather ugly. (I guess it really is ugly, too - in the sense that RCA is currently selling their remastering at full price, while Mr. Obert-Thorn's superior remastering is bargain priced! It is sobering to realize what a rip-off is being perpetrated on the public by a major record label.) As to the sound of Rachmaninoff's piano ... it never sounded better. Here, he seems to play with more color and finesse than ever.
Now to the music.
Rachmaninoff plays the Second Concerto complete, with no omissions (in fact he doubles some chords in the third-movement climax), but omissions occur in the Third Concerto. Rachmaninoff deliberately omits two "small" sections in the first movement including a few chords in the cadenza, a rather large chunk of the second movement, and two sections in the finale. (I say "deliberately," because he could have recorded the whole concerto if he had wanted to do so: the original release on 78rpm discs had one fewer disc than was possible. So it wasn't recording technology that is responsible for these omissions.)
Why did he make these "cuts" in the Third Concerto? I don't know. Some people have suggested that he felt intimidated by Vladimir Horowitz, who put out a blockbuster recording of the Third Concerto in the early 1930s which was heavily cut.
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By A Customer on Aug. 3 2002
Format: Audio CD
Who says Rachmaninov's music is shallow and too sentimental? Blasphemy!! Maybe some over-indulgent performances by naive pianists give that impression, but on this recording, with the composer himself at the keyboard (and he was one of the greatest of all pianists) there isn't the faintest suggestion of sappyness anywhere. Sure, there's passion in his "interpretation" (if you can call it that) but he lets his passion flow through the music, not overwhelm it.
Of course, the audiophile types who love glitz and glitter won't be pleased by the prehistoric recordings, but I say, great musicianship over great technology!! Don't miss out on this just because of the sound quality. It's a five-star performance if I ever heard one.
I'd suggest getting, along with this, the companion disc, featuring the (undeservedly) less well known 1st and 4th concertos and the Paganini rhapsody
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By Warren R. Davis on Sept. 17 2001
Format: Audio CD
There is no better recording of the No. 2 concerto. Stokowski and the Philadelphia players are inspired; and the beauty, dynamic range (even on this vintage recording), and technical command of the composer's handiwork are unapproachably sublime. This is one of the great recordings of all time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Sublime! Sept. 17 2001
By Warren R. Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
There is no better recording of the No. 2 concerto. Stokowski and the Philadelphia players are inspired; and the beauty, dynamic range (even on this vintage recording), and technical command of the composer's handiwork are unapproachably sublime. This is one of the great recordings of all time.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
The REAL Rachmaninov Aug. 3 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Who says Rachmaninov's music is shallow and too sentimental? Blasphemy!! Maybe some over-indulgent performances by naive pianists give that impression, but on this recording, with the composer himself at the keyboard (and he was one of the greatest of all pianists) there isn't the faintest suggestion of sappyness anywhere. Sure, there's passion in his "interpretation" (if you can call it that) but he lets his passion flow through the music, not overwhelm it.
Of course, the audiophile types who love glitz and glitter won't be pleased by the prehistoric recordings, but I say, great musicianship over great technology!! Don't miss out on this just because of the sound quality. It's a five-star performance if I ever heard one.
I'd suggest getting, along with this, the companion disc, featuring the (undeservedly) less well known 1st and 4th concertos and the Paganini rhapsody
8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps I'm a heretic, but... Aug. 13 2005
By Donald G. Hite III - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I don't particularly like the way Rachmaninoff plays these pieces. He seems to play a little too mechanically for my tastes. It just sounds like he's simply playing the notes alot of the time. I don't think that these piano concertos should be overly-phrased and made more gushy and sentimental than they are, but there has to be something in the middle. However, some of the expressiveness may be lost by the bad recording quality.

I also disagree with the assertion that a composer is automatically the supreme interpreter of his/her own works. As a composer/performer (I realize that I'm not even on the same plane as a composer like Rachmaninoff, but I think I can draw some parallels from my own experiences), I have written works which I have performed and which have been performed by others. When having my pieces played by others, I usually just give them the music and let them play it however they want. This often leads to relevations about the music I have written. For example, a player may phrase or emphasize something completely differently than I would have, and it can be great to discover things in your own works that you never even considered possible! Additionally, I think as composers, we can sometimes view our compositions in an overly structural way (not seeing the forest for the trees sometimes). Sorry if I'm off track, but my point is that, as I said, I don't think that it is wise to automatically assume that a composer plays their own pieces better than anyone else does...

That being said, this isn't a bad recording at all. His playing is technically very good, and even if the composer isn't the supreme interpreter, it's still very interesting to hear their take on their own creations (which is almost always different than anyone elses). I agree that the cuts in the 3rd concerto are somewhat annoying, and in the first movement he opts to play the "easy" version of the cadenza (there are two versions in the music, the more difficult of which is, in my opinion, far better and more effective). I believe that in the CD booklet it said that later in life, Rachmaninoff felt that some of his writing was long-winded and as he began favoring economy, he made cuts in some of his pieces (this is perhaps an example of his overly focusing on structural aspects and not seeing the big picture - I can't imagine anyone agreeing that the revised, cut version he plays on this disc is better than the original).

Anyway, this is a worthwhile disc from both a musical and historical perspective. From a purely listening standpoint, however, I would opt for Bronfman's version of these two pieces (which also cost about 7 bucks). Of course, at this price, why not get both and decide for yourself?? Enjoy
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Rachmaninov you never knew.. March 16 2007
By Louis Lam - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
..until you hear this.

It's like the first time I heard Heifetz playing Brahms' violin concerto on the RCA recording - the flow, the speed, the unimaginable sense of freedom lacking in violinists/ pianists after the Heifetz/ Rachmaninov generation. Somehow musicians after that era began to grow "slow fingers" and shallow spirituality and it became unknown to listeners how music used to sound so free - well, they couldn't have known. We couldn't have known.

Until recordings like this came along.

So, if you're curious in even the slightest sense and think you can listen beyond the mono sound (which sounds blurred and overloaded with hisses compared to modern stereo recordings), you owe yourself a chance to discover what music making had been and gain a "new pair of ears".

It's a pity for those who can't tolerate anything other than "audiophile" sound.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Really loved them Oct. 24 2005
By L. Huang - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am really glad that I purchased both CDs (Piano Concerto No.1 & No.4 etc., Piano Concerto No.2 & No.3). I do have ones played by Rubinstein, but still, these two CDs are very special. The music is alive, and the hissing makes the music so real that sometimes I appreciate those 'noises'.

Music is different than most art forms that both composition and performance are vital to the creation of the final product. Listen to the composer himself to play the music is always a nice experience, no to speak Rachmaninov himself was a great pianist.


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