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Sergei Rachmaninoff: The Complete Recordings [Box set]

Sergei Rachmaninoff Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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We remember Rachmaninov today mostly for the music he wrote. But as this set quickly reveals, he was one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, able to play his own music and a great variety of others with tremendous personality and a technique that is still astonishing. There's no point picking highlights from this set, since they are everywhere. But if you've never heard Rachmaninov play Schumann's Carnaval, try starting there for one of the most imaginative recreations of a piece of music ever recorded. The set also includes Rachmaninov's only recordings as a conductor in two of his own major works. --Leslie Gerber

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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Rachmaninoff, but it's Rachmaninoff July 9 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
As a musician, I have always been a bit apprehensive as to a music critic's judgment. He's a critic, isn't he? And this is music? What gives a person the right to critique a man's legato? I'd say he has to be a teacher, but a critic merely is a gatekeeper. Even I am guilty of prejudice by the hand of a critic. Yet, hypocrisy aside, I want to comment on this set. Without saying, Rachmaninoff is not merely a rhapsodist, but a complicated composer. Not a Lisztesque flomboyant performer, but an inevitably Russian singer. That is evident in these recordings. Of course, who better to perform the concertos and preludes than Rachmaninoff himself? Yet, be aware that even if his Chopin is georgous and sensual, and his Liszt daredevilish, and his Mozart immaculate as it should be, he is still a Russian at heart. His performances are infinitely enviable, but be aware that even the Funeral March sounds like Rachmaninoff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The piano melts April 21 2003
Format:Audio CD
Forget the background noise, the mono sound, the tiny dynamic range. As a musician, I normally consider recorded sound an important factor in the overall experience. That Rachmaninov could convey what he does here, under the technological circumstances, is unbelievable. Anyone who has an inkling of the physical demands of any of the pieces on this generous set will be astonished, not so much by any virtuoso gestures as by the way in which the piano is simply made to melt away, leaving pure music in its wake. Every track bears witness to the effortlessness of Rachmaninov's technique; the concertos are particularly refreshing as a contrast to the post-Holywood treatment they receive today. But the moment I would single out from all 10 discs is the Handel Harmonious Blacksmith variations - this is pure pianistic witchcraft, at once subtle and generous. There have been many pianists as dazzling, some more distinctively charismatic, but none who make life seem so worth living, and music so essential.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Must Have" collection for the Rachmaninoff Lover Sept. 19 2000
Format:Audio CD
I still remember how excited I was when this collection first became available. Finally, I could hear a huge number of Rachmaninoff's pieces performed by the master himself, and discover his true intentions for the pieces.
Upon listening to the discs, I was both pleased and disappointed. On one hand, the performances are irreplaceable, because Rachmaninoff's own performances must be considered the fundamental reference point for interpretation of his compositions. Rachmaninoff tended to play fast and without exaggeration, almost "dry." His performances are quite different than what has come to be accepted as "standard." I like his style, but some may find it too brusque.
My disappointment comes from the sound quality of the discs. While RCA did its best with the ancient source material, the hiss and pop and general "low-fidelity" of these recordings can be distracting, and can occasionally make it difficult to hear everything that is going on. Peak orchestral volume can create distortion drowning out the piano, for example. For acoustical reasons, it would be difficult to play this music casually - if you played these discs for friends without explanation, they would wonder what's wrong with your stereo. So I listen to these discs primarily for analytical purposes - when I want to compare and contrast Rachmaninoff's performances with others'. Yes I have occasionally listened for simple pleasure, but my ears prefer newer recordings that sound more "real," even if the performance itself is not as good.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
The music of Rachmaninoff is beyond words, furthermore, beyond imagination. He was a genius, no doubt, and nobody will ever understand how incredibly lucky we are to be blessed with his compositions. Furthermore, it is truly astonishing to hear Rachmaninoff play his own work. There is nothing so beautiful on this earth and there never will be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent listening May 30 2011
By Linda
Format:Audio CD
If you want to hear SVR play "in the flesh" (and is there any other way?), this is the collection for you. Except for Polka Italienne, which sound quality can be forgiven because of it's authenticity (I believe it was recorded at a get-together and not professionally) and the Piano Concerto No. 2 which leads off disc 8, these recordings are superb. They are a wonderful composite of Rachmaninoff's musical genious and not to be passed up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mono doesn't matter Jan. 31 2003
Format:Audio CD
My first reaction to this set was that the sound quality was horrible. That took about 2 minutes to get over, this is simply incredible stuff. I suppose if you compose something, and then you subsequently conduct those compositions, you're going to have an idea of what you want to convey to your audience. I got lost in "Isle of the Dead" while listening on my headphones...there were moments I had to stop what I was doing and just close my eyes...these CD's are a treasure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'ÕÁÒ¡ June 12 2002
Format:Audio CD
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Review from a spoiled modern listener
I'll admit that I'm a spoiled modern listener, accustomed to having the bang and hiss edited out of a recording, and it took me a while to warm to these. Read more
Published on July 12 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Background noise
This would be a great set of CDs if only someone had removed the loud background hiss from these recordings. Read more
Published on April 16 2003 by MR. C
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have on a desert island
My dear father introduced me to these recordings on LP back in the late 1970's. I was a very young piano student trying to tackle Schumann's Carnival at the time, and laying in... Read more
Published on March 4 2002 by J.Michael Besse
5.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculously good.
What can one say? It is Rachmaninoff. We just don't get pianists like this today. Not only a historical document, this set contains the best piano playing ever recorded. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2002 by "maestrogolka"
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Treasure
This collection of recordings in a treasure and I'd consider it a bargin at twice the price. The remastering team has performed a miracle with the original tapes. Read more
Published on July 23 2001 by Jeff Davis Maynor
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything the last reviewer said and then some...
We should be grateful we live in the age of recorded sound. Because of this, we have preserved forever the solo pianism, chamber performances and conducting on Sergei... Read more
Published on March 18 2000 by Dana Hatch
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