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Rachmaninoff: Piano Concertos No. 2 & No. 3
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1. Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 2 in C minor: I. Moderato 10:04/ 2. Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 2 in C minor: II. Adagio sostenuto 11:21/ 3. Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 2 in C minor: III. Allegro scherzando 11:01/ 4. Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 3 in D minor: I. Allegro ma non tanto 15:45/ 5. Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 3 in D minor: II. Intermezzo: Adagio 11:31/ 6. Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 3 in D minor: III. Finale: Alla breve 13:30
If you're looking for really good Rachmaninoff in top-of-the-line digital sound, then this is the recording of choice. It's curious that these often-recorded works are so difficult to bring off on record. There are many options, but the great versions have been around for decades. These performances challenge the past triumphantly, being neither too self-indulgently slow, nor merely empty virtuosity. Rachmaninoff's concertos are more like symphonies with piano solos--the piano accompanies the orchestra as much as the other way around, and great performances understand the need for an unprecedented degree of cooperation between soloist and conductor. It's a lesson that Lorin Maazel and Horacio Gutierrez have certainly learned, as you can hear for yourself. --David Hurwitz
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Top Customer Reviews
In music that is all about temperament, Maazel and Gutiérrez choose to play it safe. Granted, some of the tempos they take would have lesser pianists bleeding over the keys, but Gutiérrez always has it well in hand - whether it's the power chords of the Alla breve are hammered out with ease. The cadenza (he plays the abridged version) thunders politely. There was a potential in this recording for complete mayhem, the kind of emotional volatility that makes Sviatoslav Richter's Second and Earl Wild's Third spine-tingling. Not that I believe that a great performance must strike fear in the listener, but there should be a moment when the audience is transported unexpectedly, a Busonian moment when the music "dematerializes" and is all around us.
I have some minor quibbles. In the Third Concerto, the developmental material of the first movement, when it does not concern the piano, is pushed along at a faster tempo. Does Maazel find these transitions academic? Immediately preceding the cadenza, he gives the eerie falling motif in the strings short shrift by waving the players on through. Gutiérrez doesn't get the critical silence he needs before the cadenza erupts.
Though it fell short of conjuring ecstatic moments for me, this record sustains a high level of involvement. I don't doubt many pundits would prefer it over the versions I've mentioned, because it doesn't take those risks: no jabbing accents, no bass notes pounded like depth charges, but plenty of exquisite virtuosity.