It is really difficult to begin praise for his exalted work of art. The clarity, tone, phrasing, interpretation...flawless. Technical problems seemed to have vanished in the hands of this genius. I listened to some selections several times WITH the musical score, not believeing that human hands had created such sonority. While the Preludes are not as technically difficult or as artistically challenging as the Etude-Tableaux, they are still only for advanced students of the instrument. One problem faced by all interpreters of Rachmaninoff's piano music is that of technical prowess. What seemed easy or "doable" to him was absolutely impossible for others. For this reason he rewrote the second Sonata so as to make an "easier" version accessible to a wider audience. These pieces cover a range of emotions but have several common characterists - an overall moodiness (Rachmaninoff excelled in the minor keys which he deemed richer), internal rhythms and melodies, an awesome technique and melodic poetry. Many could be cited as "great" but No. 8 (C Minor), No 10 (E Flat Minor), No. 21 (B Minor) and the last, 24. (D Flat Major) stand out, particularly the last which reminds one of a mighty hymn.
THE BEST I own many recordings of the Rachmaninoff Piano Preludes; however, Alexis Weissenberg's playing of them is the very best. The thunderous ones are delivered with jaw-dropping bravura and the tender ones are delivered with great emotional restraint and depth coming from his very soul. Your won't believe Alexis' technique. Many pianist have complained that Rachmaninoff's piano works are almost unplayable due to the fact they were written for Rachmaninoff himself whose hands were physically enormous. I can remember many years ago an interview with a world famous pianist that had just recorded the Preludes and he was almost in tears recounting the demands of the works he had just recorded. Well, from listening to Weissenberg's recording, I don't think he shed any tears over the demands of the works. His playing is truly exciting in every way. If you want to hear the Rachmaninoff Preludes played as no one else can play them, buy this disc.
A magnificent experience. The controlled violence of these performances is viscerally - and spiritually - exultant. The music speaks directly, with harrowing emotional impact. The best complete set of Rachmaninoff preludes ever: ideal. If ever Beethoven's epigraph "From the heart - may it go to the heart!" applies to any performances, it applies to these.