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Piano Suites 1 & 2 Import

4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, October 11, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Barcarolle
  2. La Nuit... L'Amour
  3. Les Larmes
  4. Paques
  5. Introdcution (Alla Marcia)
  6. Valse (Presto)
  7. Romance (Andantino)
  8. Tarantelle (Presto)
  9. Non Allegro - Lento - Tempo 1
  10. Andante Con Moto 9Tempo Di Valse)
  11. Lento Assai- Allegro Vivace - Lento Assai - Allegro Vivace


Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 11, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion UK
  • ASIN: B000A7XJMY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,643 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Shelley and Macnamara play Rachmaninoff beautifully, and it sounds like they're having fun doing it. If you like piano music and/or Rachmaninoff, this disc would be a fine addition to your library. You might also look at Shelley's recording of the Rachmaninoff piano concertos. He plays them as well as anyone, and better than most.
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Format: Audio CD
This disc from 1989 collects all of Rachmaninov's works for two pianos and makes a very desirable collection.

The major works on this disc are the two suites and the Symphonic Variations. This latter was written ahead of the more well-known but not superior, version for orchestra arranged by Rachmaninov. The two versions are complementary rather than competitive with each other as they bring different aspects of the work to the fore. Obviously the orchestral version has the benefit of Rachmaninov's tremendous skill in imagining effective orchestral textures and colouring. However the piano version is by no means over-shadowed as it brings a far more incisive rhythmical edge which really makes a difference to the dance element of the music. As a result the music, when well-played as here, can be far more dramatic in its total effect than when softened or muted by the wealth of orchestral colours. Rachmaninov was a master pianist and therefore knew how to maximise the textures available to him on the instrument. What is truly remarkable about this version is that when listening to it one simply does not miss any of the orchestral colours even if you know that alternative version very well as I do.

The two suites are equally enjoyable being made up of four contrasting movements each. There is no orchestral equivalent. Anyone familiar with the Etudes Tableaux for instance will readily engage with these pieces.

This is a fine disc which provides idiomatically Russian-sounding interpretations of major piano repertoire. There are alternatives available and that played by Ashkenazy and Previn is very fine indeed and worth a very special mention. It is even more darkly Russian in its feel. No-one buying this version by Shelley and his wife should feel short-changed in any way though and this remains a very fine disc in a fine complete survey. The recording quality is excellent.

............................................
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Format: Audio CD
The first few notes of this album play, and a door opens into a magical world. That's how it always happens to me. I play Suite No 1 and hear "The Barcarolle," and then "La Nuit," and then "Les Larmes," and "Paques," -- and I see a lost world, the sort of place the Russian upper class used to live and love. Sample it, you'll hear what I mean.

Suite 2 is more rousing, an adventure, rather than a romance. A carriage ride through busy streets, a climb on a hillside with babbling brooks. Watching a parade of soldiers in their best uniforms, knowing that they won't be going off to war anytime soon. All of these pieces were new to me when I first heard this album. I was well aware of Rachmaninov's piano concertos, and of "Isle Of The Dead." But what really amazed me was this double-piano version of his wonderful "Symphonic Dances." I prefer it to the orchestral versions I have, even though they are marvelous. This is just that much better.

I don't intend disrespect to the other reviewers, but I disagree with them about the quality of this recording and of the performances of Shelley and Macnamara. They are perfect and dazzling. I give this album the highest rating, without reservation.
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Format: Audio CD
On paper this should be a very handy collection of Rachmaninov's most important works for piano duo - and wonderful works they are. The early first suite must be one of the most magical creations in the piano literature (especially the utterly otherworldly, breathtaking third movement). The second suite is hardly less rewarding even if it doesn't give up its goods quite as easily. The symphonic dances are of course very well known in their orchestral guises, but even if you know them as orchestral works, I strongly encourage you to acquaint yourself with the two-piano versions, in which they take on a wholly different range of colors and textural effects.

That said, I am less convinced that this is the right place to explore this music. It is somewhat surprising, given the reputation of Howard Shelley in general (and my experience with him in various repertoire), and also as a Rachmaninov performer (I am less familiar with Hilary Macnamara), but the playing on this disc is surprisingly mechanical and lacking in dynamism and coloration. The poetry of the music is almost consistently overlooked, and what we get instead is a series of clockwork dances - lots of energy here, to be sure, but virtually nothing else. Little fantasy, no mournfulness; the third movement of the first suite, for example, is disappointing even if the very opening of the movement is appropriately magical - in general it sounds almost as if Shelley and Macnamara have very good initial ideas about how to approach a given movement, but soon looses control and reverts to safe, mechanical playing.
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Piano Suites 1 & 2
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