Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 / Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
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on May 11, 2003
Simply the best recording of one of our favorite concertos. You really feel the power in this recording, and DG did a great job of capturing Richter as though you were there listening to him.
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on April 23, 2004
of the Rachmaninov with the Prokofiev Concerto 5. That is a more worthwhile purchase. The Prokofiev 5 is a legend compared with this Tchailkovsky. I don't know what made those DG people switch the coupling.
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on June 21, 2010
Aaaaaah, Maestro Richter, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Rachmaninov's Concerto #2! This is basically *the* quintessential recording of Rachmaninov's Concerto #2!

I have listened to the cassette version of this recording so many times, I have broken it multiple times beyond repair... I have bought two copies of this CD and it sounds as great as always.

As an amateurish concert pianist, I would easily trade a good ten years of my life for the opportunity to perform this piano-concerto with a professional Orchestra... It would be a privilege and a great honor that I would cherish for the rest of my life!

This recording is legendary, I would give anything to have been in Maestro Richter's place and made history!

Warm Regards Always,
Charles Henri Darakdjian
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on September 25, 2002
I leave to others the arguments over why these are or are not recordings worthy of praise or a sniff of distain.
Personally, I was amazed at the artistry of both pieces. Seemed to me that many neat little musical bits and details appeared in these two performances that I've not heard elsewhere.
But I was more amazed at the quality of the recordings...1950's and '60's analog masters that put me more into the middle of the performance than many DDD recordings I've heard. If that was the result of "original-image bit-processing", then I'm going to look for that little moniker on other recordings I'm considering.
I think this CD is wonderful.
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on January 19, 2016
I have five recorded performances of the Rachmaninov, this is by far the best. Such a beautiful, romantic yet not sentimental performance. Unlike other reviewers I find the 1959 recording quite outstanding. All in all the best performance ever.
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The Tchaikovsky piano concerto was approached for Richter as a imperial concert and not as a simple introspective and romantic work .

This idea is extremely remarkable since you muts notice the fact the three first symphonies are deeply imperials , epic and surrounded for the epic majesty and russian pride .

But since the four till the sixth , the conception changes completely . We see the man and his inner sorrows and his fears.

In this sense the most of the western pianist play Tchaikovsky , as the wounded man tired due his personal tragedy .

Richter turns around the clock and reveals Tchaikovsky with the same spirit that we know in his first Symphny , radian and filled with vitality and fierce.

The slow tempo does not mean a rendition but a clever statement about a transition between the youth and the mature age . Karajan in this sense did not make any special contributtion in this case . He respected Richter and knew about his special rapport for Tchaikovsky . I mean you will feel the required histamina in the last bars but as a natural consequence of the musical language and not a simple firework exercise.

In the case of Rachmaninov , Richter keeps the romantic mood , and he avoids the excesive self indulgence so typical of Rachmaninov .

The emphasis turns around another levels , such as the epic nosthalgy for the land he will never see again and obviosuly the hidden homagge to his beloved friend the hypnotist doctor Dahl who rescued him from the alcohol hell .

Rowicki was one of the best polish conductors in any age . He understood perfectly this rapture feeling and the key was simply overwhelming .

Fundamental issue in your personal collection.
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on January 31, 2001
Here are two undeniably controversial performances. I'm afraid the problem is neither with Richter nor even with the conductors, but simply with the way we listen to those works: both (especially Thaik.) much too well-known and (I'm sorry to say) less than masterpieces. Where has the editorial reviewer seen that Richter in his later years focused on the classical authors, Ican't imagine. I happened to attend a concert in Paris where, looking very old and very week (though not sounding so), he offered a dreadful Chopin and a magnificent Scriabin. I think it's always interesting to hear two great musicians cooperating in a work upon which they don't seem to have the same point of view : e.g. Richter/Fischer-Dieskau, Brendel/Fischer-Dieskau, Gould/Bernstein, Horowitz/Toscanini... and Richter/Karajan. Their Tchaikovsky concerto is always very musical : they make it sound as though there wasn't a single superfluous note in the score - goodness knows!... Of course, the soloist and the conductor seem to be a bit of a nuisance to each other, but it gives the performance a somewhat conflicting character that suits the piece very well. As for the Rach. 2, Richter gives a first-rate piano (and music) demonstration. Listen to the rythmic chord motive in the 1st movement recapitulation: every chord has its exact weight. Under those fingers, Rachmaninoff doesn't appear any longer like some kind of soppy virtuoso, but as a first-rate composer, bearing comparison with Brahms in terms of structural firmness. So, at least to a blasé musician, this record appears truly gorgeous and exhilarating. And,of course, very unlike the innumerable standard de-luxe performances we are used to. However, if you want this music to make you moisten your hankerchief, my advice is definitely : turn to another pianist !
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on November 3, 2010
So, my two cents. Yet another five-star review. I have been listening to classical music for a very long time. But when I heard Richter play the Rachmaninoff, I had the oddest feeling that I was hearing it for the first time. He plays with such utter clarity, and this is really Richter's strength - absolutely perfect articulation. Regardless of how fast he plays or how enormous the chords and arpeggios are, every note is distinctly audible. Surely, this has to be the best performance of this concerto. Never mind that the orchestra is just so-so, and that the conductor is also just so-so ... at least he doesn't get in Richter's way, and this CD is about Richter, not the conductor.

The Tchaikovsky has been criticized a lot, not because of Richter but rather Von Karajan. I have never liked Karajan's work. He is about as exciting as a glass of water. And, yes, this performance suffers from a lack of vigor with a quite slow tempo. To give some credit to Karajan, although it is lacking in drama, and while it does not make up for the lack of excitement, it is certainly eloquent.
However, again, this disk is about Richter, not the conductor, and once more, I felt as though I was hearing this concerto for the first time. I heard things that I never heard before, not even from Cliburn whose version with Kondrashin is certainly more energetic. Cliburn was a fine young pianist with a lot of talent. But Richter was a musician.

As for the comment from a previous reviewer criticizing the sound quality ... you should hear the Melodiya release with Richter/Mravinsky/Sanderling first, then you would appreciate this CD more. Mravinsky and Sanderling with the Leningrad Orchestra may have given better performances and Richter may have been more free on the Tchaikovsky than he was with Von Karajan, but how can you tell? The sound quality is just awful (see my review for the depressing truth). The sound on this DG CD is certainly good enough considering the recording dates.

All told, an excellent disk. Well worth the modest price.
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on May 19, 2004
Richter's performance on this cd reminds me very much of Rush's 2112 album. You are captivated from the moment you hit play, and you are taken on a journey. But by the end, you realize that every time you will pay it another visit, you will discover a whole new world of aesthetics that you had no prior perception of. Not just compositionally, but the same goes for what Richter's soul has to say. It's like getting two stories in one! This may initially sound ironic, given that his devilishly careful, almost brooding pacing, finds many listeners opting for Ashkenazy's spin. However, for me, the more thoughtful ... a performance is, the more intricacies there are to be found. When you listen to Rush, you barely get anything from the first listen... but you just KNOW that there IS an eternity of SOMETHING to be gathered, if you listen over and over again. So, in either case, you become strangely obsessed and fixated, drawn to listen just one more time. I suppose to really go out there, I will compare Richter to an artistic bag of potato chips. You must just keep going. That's not to say you get nothing from the first listen! Indeed, those familiar with the concerto and/or Richter will be blown away, regardless. But with every chord of the 1st movement of the Rach 2nd, you sense a world of unspoken stories, meaning, content! Warning, though - if you don't like being analytical, this isn't the recording for you. People complain of orchestral faults, injections of political issues, etc. etc.... but what captivates me every time I listen to Richter, is how superb he is at upping the ante for the utopian combination of brains and emotion. ... The same is to be said for the Tchaikovsky. Whatever stressors surround the nature of the recording, a true musician puts it all aside (OR uses it as fuel to the fire!) and performs a miracle at the piano. If you are openminded, buy this - you won't be disappointed. Rather,... you'll become addicted.
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on December 27, 2002
Richter's performance on this cd reminds me very much of Rush's 2112 album. You are captivated from the moment you hit play, and you are taken on a journey. But by the end, you realize that every time you will pay it another visit, you will discover a whole new world of aesthetics that you had no prior perception of. Not just compositionally, but the same goes for what Richter's soul has to say. It's like getting two stories in one! This may initially sound ironic, given that his devilishly careful, almost brooding pacing, finds many listeners opting for Ashkenazy's spin. However, for me, the more thoughtful ... a performance is, the more intricacies there are to be found. When you listen to Rush, you barely get anything from the first listen... but you just KNOW that there IS an eternity of SOMETHING to be gathered, if you listen over and over again. So, in either case, you become strangely obsessed and fixated, drawn to listen just one more time. I suppose to really go out there, I will compare Richter to an artistic bag of potato chips. You must just keep going. That's not to say you get nothing from the first listen! Indeed, those familiar with the concerto and/or Richter will be blown away, regardless. But with every chord of the 1st movement of the Rach 2nd, you sense a world of unspoken stories, meaning, content! Warning, though - if you don't like being analytical, this isn't the recording for you. People complain of orchestral faults, injections of political issues, etc. etc.... but what captivates me every time I listen to Richter, is how superb he is at upping the ante for the utopian combination of brains and emotion. ... The same is to be said for the Tchaikovsky. Whatever stressors surround the nature of the recording, a true musician puts it all aside (OR uses it as fuel to the fire!) and performs a miracle at the piano. If you are openminded, buy this - you won't be disappointed. Rather,... you'll become addicted.
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