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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

Customer Reviews

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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5.0 out of 5 stars Must have on a desert island March 4 2002
Format:Audio CD
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 bed in the dark listening to S. Rachmaninoff whisking through it like spring birds among the trees effortlessly in complete control of all harmony and melody and making me feel like I'd never ever be able to play like that. Well, many years later, much maturer, I realized I could come close. But never could anyone bring us the cultural, educational and pianistic gifts that this set allows us to enjoy. I could go on and on about the individual selections and how wonderful they are, but you all need to hear for yourselves. Everyone will have their own favorite, personally the variety is so great, the repertiore so large, there is always something for the moment. This set will always be the center and core of my collection. And believe me, that's alot to say since I delve into the remotist regions of pianistic jungles.
If any one has trouble with the sound quality, I have a suggestion. Use headphones, turn out the lights and LISTEN! There is nothing missing from these recordings except the modern listeners prejudices. It's all there, baby's, you just need to open your ears to it.
Good listening, and remember, it's all a gift.
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By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Quite simply a must for any serious collector of legendary performers from the past, this collection contains the entire recorded legacy of Sergei Rachmaninoff, considered by many to be one of the greatest if not "the" greatest pianist of our century. Containing outstanding recording notes as well as a full discography, this box set features not only brilliant individual interpretations of selected works of Rachmaninoff played imitiably by the composer but also outstanding performances of Chopin's B-flat minor sonata and Schumann's Carnaval. Although the recorded sound varies greatly from performance to performance, these interpretations will always remain an remarkable document of the Golden Age of Pianism which includes such illustrius names as Paderewski, Rosenthal, Hofmann, etc. At this budget price offered by RCA Gold Seal, it should be acquired by any serious lover of piano before it goes out of print.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent listening
If you want to hear SVR play "in the flesh" (and is there any other way?), this is the collection for you. Read more
Published on May 30 2011 by Linda
5.0 out of 5 stars Ah, Rachmaninoff, brilliant star of music, how we adore you
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... Read more
Published on Sept. 13 2003
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 Mono doesn't matter
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. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2003 by Tom Moske II
5.0 out of 5 stars 'ÕÁÒ¡
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DB ThaiTextFixed, MS Sans Serif" >... Read more
Published on June 12 2002 by kittichai
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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