Great Pianists: Rachmaninov Vol.4 - The Edison Recordings, April 1919 | Naxos - Historical 8111407

Great Pianists: Rachmaninov Vol.4 - The Edison Recordings, April 1919

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Label: Naxos - Historical

Cat No: 8111407

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 12th May 2017

Contents

Works

Chopin, Frederic

Waltzes (19)
» no.5 in A flat major, op.42
» no.8 in A flat major, op.64 no.3

Liszt, Franz

Hungarian Rhapsodies (19), S244
» no.2 in C sharp minor

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

Piano Sonata no.11 in A major, K331

Rachmaninov, Sergei

Morceaux de fantasie, op.3
» no.2 Prelude in C sharp minor

Scarlatti, Domenico

Pastorale and Capriccio (arr. Tausig)
» Pastorale (arr. of K9)

Artists

Sergei Rachmaninov (piano)

Works

Chopin, Frederic

Waltzes (19)
» no.5 in A flat major, op.42
» no.8 in A flat major, op.64 no.3

Liszt, Franz

Hungarian Rhapsodies (19), S244
» no.2 in C sharp minor

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

Piano Sonata no.11 in A major, K331

Rachmaninov, Sergei

Morceaux de fantasie, op.3
» no.2 Prelude in C sharp minor

Scarlatti, Domenico

Pastorale and Capriccio (arr. Tausig)
» Pastorale (arr. of K9)

Artists

Sergei Rachmaninov (piano)

About

Rachmaninov was obliged to start a new life after abandoning all his possessions when leaving Russia for good in 1917. He sought his fortune in the New World, supporting his family as a pianist and giving numerous concerts. This activity generated interest from fledgling record companies, and before long Rachmaninov was working for Thomas Edison in his New York studio. These new transfers of ‘approved’ and ‘held’ takes made using the old acoustic process known as ‘hill-and dale’ reveal more about the instrument Rachmaninov played (probably a Lauter piano) than ever before, as well as opening out his robustly virtuoso approach to Chopin, the beautiful tone he gives to Mozart, and his breathtaking technique in Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2, the longest solo work he ever recorded.

Having covered Rachmaninov’s Victor recordings in the first three volumes of these solo piano recordings, volume 4 brings us to his earliest work for Thomas Edison way back in 1919-20. These acoustic tracks are notorious for their surface noise, a side-effect of Edison’s own inventive but ultimately limited recording technique. Ward Marston’s expert re-mastering reveals more of Rachmaninov’s musicianship than any other set of transfers to date, and as a result will be of great value to collectors.

Previous releases in this historical edition have received universal praise. Volume 1 (8112020) was considered “a superb first volume in what promises to be an invaluable series” by Gramophone. Volume 2 (8112058) is “an amazing tribute to a towering talent as well as a wonderful job performed by Ward Marston as audio restoration engineer” according to MusicWeb International, and Classical Recordings Quarterly also admired Volume 3 (8111397): “Not only does this disc present one of the summits of pianism on record; but the transfers are excellent,” the same volume summed up by Gramophone as “playing beyond price.”

Reviews

This Naxos release is, as far as I am aware, the first time that all these immensely important documents have been released together; certainly their contents have never before been heard so clearly – once, that is, you have become used to the sound of two people walking out of step on Chesil Beach. Ward Marston’s transfers have a higher level of swish than those on RCA but the piano tone (so poor in earlier incarnations that it was assumed that the studio piano was a bad upright) is far superior in depth and detail. Now it is clearly a decent grand (probably a Lauter) and you can hear Rachmaninov in all his glory.  Jeremy Nicholas
Gramophone July 2017
Gramophone Editor's Choice

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