This compilation features recordings made between 1950 and 1958 and “accompanies” the legendary pianist on his way to the Mount Olympus of piano playing. The repertoire ranges from Johann Sebastian Bach over German classicism and romanticism (Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann) to that gathering of great Russian composers – Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Scriabin, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev.
This is a wonderful collection of all the great composer's known works, and is a must buy for anyone who enjoy's Rachmaninoff. While most of the recordings are not perhaps the absolute best that are out there, they are all still, for the most part, quite good. The only real issues I can find with this set are two rather small ones. On the recording of the symphonic poem The Isle of the Dead, there is an odd static-like sound that starts at about 17 minutes into the piece, which then disappears briefly, before reappearing once more. It is rather irritating, especially considering that the rest of the recording is very nice.
Sony Classcial celebrates the art of Sviatoslav Richter (1995-1997) – one of the 20th century’s greatest pianists – with the first-ever release of his complete Columbia Masterworks and RCA Victor live and studio recordings in an 18 CD original jacket edition, underneath Richter’s legendary five October 1960 Carnegie Hall recitals.
Even though Franz Joseph Haydn is widely credited as the father of the string quartet, the Casal Quartet makes a startling claim that the honor may belong to Franz Xaver Richter, whose seven String Quartets, Op. 5, seem to have determined the character of the genre, from their first performance by Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf's quartet in 1757. Richter's quartets preceded Haydn's and Boccherini's earliest efforts by several years, suggesting that they were likely influential. Furthermore, the sophistication and polish of his Op. 5 suggests that he may well have composed other such quartets, though if he did, they are lost.
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev has established himself as one of the most dynamic and virtuosic performers of his generation, and his program on this RCA album with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic is ideally suited to his extraordinary abilities. The pairing of Sergey Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor and George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is a natural one, particularly because of the works' shared post-romanticism (note Rachmaninov's influence on Gershwin's slow theme in the Rhapsody), as well as for the dazzling writing for the piano in both works. Of course, the challenge for Matsuev is to make his part appear effortless, and he succeeds so well in both performances that listeners may be a bit blasé about his playing, taking it in without really considering what knuckle-busters these pieces really are.
Tom Service takes a cinematic journey through Russia on the trail of the wondrous yet melancholic melodies of Russian giant Sergei Rachmaninoff. A celebration of a composer's musical triumph over critical adversity and Soviet terror, with performances and contributions from Vladimir Ashkenazy, Denis Matsuev, Steven Isserlis, Stephen Hough, Vladimir Jurowski, Lucy Parham and James Rhodes.