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Rachmaninov Plays Rachmaninov--Ampico Recordings (1919-29)

4.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 10, 1990
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$10.39 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 9 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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  • Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff: The 4 Piano Concertos
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  • A Window in Time: Rachmaninoff Performs His Solo Piano Works
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 10, 1990)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B0000041WS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,520 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is one of two recordings featuring Rachmaninov's Ampico rolls recorded on a modern piano. This one features an Estonia concert grand circa 1976, and the other features a Bosendorfer. For pianists this is a unique opportunity to hear the same performance on two pianos. How much difference does the piano make? Does the Ampico roll really capture the soul of Rachmaninov's playing? You'll be able to decide for yourself, I would say the answer to both questions is yes. As an owner of a newer Estonia piano, and as someone who plays Rachmaninov on that piano, this recording was a fabulous find; for other pianists it might provide some insight into the love many of the great Russian pianists of the 20th century had for Estonia pianos.
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By A Customer on January 19, 2002
Format: Audio CD
No words can describe the feeling of hearing Rachmaninov play his own compositions. He was known for his piano performances as much as his writing. Even though the album is not the best quality sound or containing the best versions of his well known songs, I am relieved that he was able to be recorded in his time. The man may be gone, but his sound will live forever. The cuts in the musical score that he made, I see as Rachmaninov's own whim, his split-second decisions, or his doubts. What a wonder to see him as human... I think these recordings should be put in Earth's time capsule. Also, his rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" is fascinating. He lends his Russian soul to it that gives new meaning to the anthem.
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Format: Audio CD
Wow. If you're thinking about buying this, do yourself a favor, and do. Not only is his playing beautiful, but there's nothing like hearing how he "plays" with the timing and dynamics (to encourage you to do it yourself). And it's not expensive here, and it's not easy to find.

Seriously: this is about the same price as a 3-month old hip-hop CD that's moved to discount in the record store, and no-one's going to want to listen to in 2 years.

Forget about the technical stuff: when Rechmaninov himself heard this played back, he was very pleased that it sounded like his playing. You will be, too. If you didn't know all about Ampico, you'd be wondering how they processed it to make an old recording sound so good.

Listening to this on a (roughly) $4,000 stereo didn't show any terribly noticeable technical flaws in the recording; I think those who think it sounds "mechanical" are either not crazy about Rachmaninov's fingering technique (his "diction" is sometimes rather pronounced), or else it's the power of suggestion.

If you play it for someone without telling them how it was made, they'll probably be very impressed. I have recordings of pianos that sound (slightly) better, but not that I'd rather listen to.
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By A Customer on December 18, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Many people forget that Rachmaninov was a great pianist as well as a great composer... this album will serve as a reminder. This recording was made from a unique piano-roll system which provides amazing insight into his technical ability and musicality. Especially stunning are "Flight of the Bumblebee" and his own transcription of Kreisler's "Liebesfreud". A must-have for lovers of great piano music.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
"Gentlemen, I have just heard myself play." These are the words of the great composer and pianist himself upon hearing one of these piano rolls played back. These recordings are not just the plain notes that you might have heard while pumping the pedals of an old player piano. The ingenious technology employed by Ampico in the early years of the twentieth century was able to capture every nuance and reproduce the fortissimo bass notes in a way that would rival the best digital recordings of today and certainly surpasses the limited dynamic range of phonograph recordings of that era.

Rachmaninoff is one of the few giants of musical composition who left a legacy of his own recordings, and we are most fortunate for that. His exquisite interpretation and complete mastery of the keyboard are apparent in these recodings from a specially adapted Estonia 9-foot concert grand piano. Played back on a quality music listening system, it is almost as if you are hearing an extraordinary performance live.

Obviously, I could not recommend this recording more highly.
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Format: Audio CD
Rachmaninov Plays Rachmaninov--Ampico Recordings (1919-29) is a 1979 Decca Record Company recording starring Rachmaninov as he plays Rachmaninov. Denis Hall has written the music notes. One soon realizes that Rachmaninov was not only a great composer but also an amazing pianist. One feels the passion that he had for his own compositions and it is a magnificent opportunity to listen to the composer as he plays his own works. Highly recommended indeed. 5/5.
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Is this the best recording in terms of sound quality? No. But who cares! The sound is wonderful enough to draw you into the music -- Rachmaninov playing his own music! (Mostly his on this disk anyway.) I don't know how some people can complain about the mechanical nature of the sound. Besides not sounding mechanical to me, I was just way way too busy appreciating his own interpretation of his music, & how it contrasts with so many other recordings.

The Gm (my favorite) prelude is a case in point. He took much liberty in tempo variations & dynamics. Ashkenazy (among my favorite interpreters of Rachmaninov) would gradually and steadily build up speed and dynamics at the beginning of the first theme's recap towards the end of the piece, giving it a more polished approach. Rachmaninov, on the other hand, built up in a more erratic way and was thus more interesting -- sounding less rehearsed and more impromptu.

This is true for quite a few pieces here, & that's fine by me. This genius was free to do what he wanted with his own music after all! Also, I wonder if the recordings collected here were mostly 1-takes, or at most 1 of just a few takes. I would imagine the engineers then didn't ask him to do 10 rolls per song & played them all back & let him pick his favorites, the way modern digital studio recordings allow musicians to do... thus the less rehearsed-sounding these recordings are.

Worth so much more than the price of admission! Your chance to hear how Rachmaninov may have intended his music to sound, without forcing yourself to hear the music through much hissing and other old recordings' artifacts.
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