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Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff: Zenph Re-performance

Sergei Rachmaninoff Audio CD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

Price: $10.77 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 22, 2009)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B002BFIN6K
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,285 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Liebesleid
2. Prelude, Op. 3, No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor
3. The Flight Of The Bumblebee
4. Scherzo from A Midsummer Night's Dream
5. Etude Tableau, Op. 33, No. 2 in C Major
6. Etude Tableau, Op. 33, No. 7 in E-Flat Major
7. Moment Musical, Op. 16, No. 2 in E-Flat Minor
8. Daisies, Op. 38, No. 3
9. Lullaby, Op. 16, No. 1
10. Violin Partita No. 3, BWV 1006; Prelude
11. Violin Partita No. 3, BWV 1006; Gavotte
12. Violin Partita No. 3, BWV 1006; Gigue
13. Liebesfreud

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sitting in the room as Rachmaninoff plays. September 25, 2009
Format:Audio CD
As a software engineer at Zenph Studios, I am especially proud of the work our production team did on this album. Rachmaninoff's compositions are well known, but this album brings to light his amazing artistry as a pianist. Listen, for example, to this performance of his famous C-sharp minor prelude; he plays it with much more subtlety than most modern interpretations, using dynamic contrast to establish a captivating dialog between one voice tolling the opening three-note motif and other distinctly-softer voices answering it.

The other pieces on the album are also pianistic treats. Rachmaninoff's transcriptions of "Flight of the Bumblebee" and "Scherzo from a Midsummer Night's Dream" showcase his dexterity, and are great fun to hear. The intricacy of voicing and rubato in Rachmaninoff's performances of his original works is astounding, and each track is packed full of little musical surprises.

This album was re-performed on a 1909 Steinway model D on which Rachmaninoff may have very well played. Thanks to recording engineer Richard King and everyone involved in the preparation of the piano, the sound of that wonderful instrument comes through beautifully in this album. This disc presents each piece from two perspectives: an exceptional stereo version places you near the front of the audience while Rachmaninoff plays, and an intimate binaural stereo version seats you on the bench next to him. The binaural version was recorded using a special dummy head with a microphone in each ear, carefully positioned so that when the tracks are played back through headphones, each note comes from its correct place in space (lower notes toward the left, higher notes toward the right). This may be one of the best sounding piano albums ever made.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy CD for the collection December 31, 2009
Format:Audio CD
This is a very well done recording. Too often, CD sound is overly compressed but the dynamic range of this is wonderful. I tend to increase the volume when playing this CD since the overall average volume is lower - this really enhances the enjoyment and emotional power of the music.

I know people may have trouble with the Zenph concept, but I find the concept intriguing and the execution on this CD is very well done. Until there is time travel, this is a real treat.

Be aware that there are 13 tracks on this CD: 1 - 13 are recorded in standard stereo and then repeated as 14 - 26 in binaural stereo for headphones. I would rather have thius split into 2 separate discs but that is a nit.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating re-creation December 27, 2009
Format:Audio CD
In addition to being one of the most important composers of the early 20th century to emerge out of Russia, Sergei Rachmaninoff was also one of the great pianists in the history of the instrument. Famous for his large hands that spaned a twelfth interval, capivating and nuanced melodic textures and complex figurations, Rachmaninoff's playing has always fascinated pianists and music lovers.

This modern recreation - using softwear analyzing his playing dynamics (touch, pedeling, speed etc) that is then fed to a Steineway Grand - seeks to recreate Rachmaninoff's exact style (minus missed notes, good or bad) in modern, quality stereo sound. Whether one agrees to its relevance and authenticity in the scheme of things, it is a totally fascinating approach from sound science and engineering.

First of all this is a rich collection of Rachmaninoff's solo piano compositions and transcriptions. I was not so familiar with Rachmaninoff's solo works until this disc and was transfixed to hear each piece over and over. It became clear why this pianist is so admired.

What I found most striking listening to this disc with no expectations was the exceedingly nuanced and beautiful pianism. There is a smoothness and a fresh, organic nature to the playing that shows no unnecessary/excessive elaboration, rubato, over pedaling. Its hard to decribe the effect - the music just seeems to flow effortlessly like a clear stream of water through a tranquil forest. You don't hear mushed-over textures from excess pedaling (which the composer was known not to engage in) but nice, clear sonorities and distinctiveness of the notes.

Not sure why so much negative press on the sound quality. From my ears, it sounds equal or better than any of the other 1000 classical discs.
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Travesty May 25, 2011
Format:Audio CD
The positive reviews here mainly rave about the recorded sound quality, but is that really what the focus should be on a CD that claims to "completely eliminate the technological limitations of the past by using computer software to capture Rachmaninoff's attacks, keyspeeds, pitches, durations, and interpretive nuances from a 78rpm record..." I wrote an extensive review of this CD for the Association of Recorded Sound Collections Journal where I compared Rachmaninoff's original 78rpm records against the Zenph re-performances. The Zenph performances did not hold up well to such scrutiny. Here are a few quotes from that lengthy review.

"Where Zenph truly fails is in reproducing the artistry and musical effects found in Rachmaninoff's playing. Simply put, Zenph often reproduces the notes but not the musical relationship between the notes. Consider two slurred notes played in a particularly expressive manner by Rachmaninoff. In Zenph the second note will be quieter but lack a poetic connection."

"throughout Rachmaninoff's playing one hears beautifully balanced chords. The top note might sing out more in one chord whereas an inner dissonance might be emphasized for a different color in another chord. These are the sort of details missed by the Zenph technology. Zenph's chords for the most part simply sound like ordinary chords - they lack the special touch, color, balance, and sound Rachmaninoff brings."

"Zenph fails to recreate is the energetic, incisive quality found in many of the original 78s. What happened to the light, springy character of the Mendelssohn Scherzo? Why does the Bach Gigue sound so much more crisp and energetic on the original 78rpm? Where's the electricity in the opening of Liebesfreud?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great product
I bought this Cd brand new on Amazon. It arrived in excellent condition.

I already have the normal tracks which I bought on HD Tracks, but did not have the binaural... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Johannes Venter
3.0 out of 5 stars Binaural...???
Listened to this cd for a few hours
Wasn't much difference between the regular & the binaural sound
Not sure ,if this is a true binaural recording?? Read more
Published on July 19, 2012 by Michael G. Spille
4.0 out of 5 stars Silk Purse From A Sow's Ear
The team from ZENPH obtained the best recordings by Rachmaninoff from the early twentieth century and, through proprietary computer processing, were able to remove surface noise... Read more
Published on December 7, 2011 by Classical Recording Collector
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Performance, Astonishing Technology
After watching Joshua Bell on PBC-TV's "Great Performances"" perform the Grieg Duet using the Zenph technology with Rachmaninoff performing on the piano , I ordered the cd that... Read more
Published on January 24, 2010 by Andrew Lebby
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent pianism
While many of the reviewers have commented (mostly positively) on the technical aspects of this recreation, I must say that the disc has given me ample musical pleasure and an... Read more
Published on January 7, 2010 by Dr Carl
5.0 out of 5 stars Audiophile husband
My audiophile husband greatly enjoyed this CD for his birthday. I liked it as well.
Published on December 26, 2009 by Gentle Reader
3.0 out of 5 stars Good music, but a colossal rip-off.
The work Zenph does with old recordings is amazing, and this disc is no exception. But the decision of the record company to issue it as a CD rather than an SACD makes it poor... Read more
Published on November 30, 2009 by B. Scheiner
5.0 out of 5 stars Playing of unsurpassed beauty
It is difficult to describe Rachmaninoff's playing. Words alone do not do justice to it. I will begin by mentioning that people who heard him play said that he just did not play... Read more
Published on November 20, 2009 by Lola Odiaga
1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, but . . .
One dislikes to strike the negative note, but this is a terrible recording. It's a pity that it's not been suppressed. Read more
Published on November 13, 2009 by Karl Watson
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice sounding CD, but Rachmaninoff is NOT in my living room.
I have some Rachmaninoff on 78 and all of it that was released on LP (although not every different LP version), the first release on CD of the complete recordings, plus several... Read more
Published on November 7, 2009 by J. K. Weston
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