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Rachmaninov: 24 Preludes, Etc / Vladimir Ashkenazy


Release Date: 05/16/1995 
Label:  London/Decca Double Decker Catalog #: 443841   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 46 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

These performances, especially of the Preludes, are very familiar to me, and I hope to many others. They are the best locally available recordings of these works, including of the Sonata; outstanding on LP, they sound even better in CD format. Ashkenazy gets as close as possible to making the C sharp minor Prelude sound fresh, and one might also note the becalmed melancholy of Op. 23 No. 1, the exquisite management of the different threads in the texture of Op. 23 No. 4, the supple flow of Op. 23 No. 6. Perhaps the irony could have been made more apparent in Op. 23 No. 3, a latter-day comment on the minuet genre, but the exhilarating sweep of Op. 23 No. 2 is again remarkable—and interestingly different from the measured impetuosity of Op. Read more 32 No. 1. Superficially the two sets of Preludes are similar, yet in reality they are a lot different. There is nothing in the earlier group, for example, like Op. 32 No. 4, let alone Nos. 10 and 13. Closely linked to the quality of Ashkenazy's interpretations is the fact that he brings to this music a technique perfectly adapted to Rachmaninov's way of writing for the piano in these works, a good illustration being Op. 23 No. 9, which is an etude rather than a prelude.

The Sonata also receives a magnificent performance, though one whose recorded sound is less sumptuous than that of the Preludes. But the question of the different versions of this works is becoming as complex as that of some Bruckner symphonies. The Sonata was composed in 1913 and Rachmaninov in 1931 made a revision which has in recent years been felt by a slowly increasing number of pianists and listeners to have gone too far in its excisions. A problem is that each performer who plays what is usually claimed to be the original edition in fact has a version of his own. Thus, it is incorrect for the accompanying booklet to say that Ashkenazy offers the 1913 score. What he actually plays is a version, presumably his own, that, while as long as the original, employs 1931 variants at several points in the Non allegro and Allegro molto. Also, near the end of the slow movement he follows the 1931 revision by quoting the opening Allegro agitato's second subject. It is instructive to compare all this with Horowitz's LP recording on CBS (nla), which is more consistently faithful to 1913 textures but does make some cuts. We could do with a recording that was completely faithful to the original edition, and a republication of that long out-of-print text. Meanwhile, these two CDs of Ashkenazy's are unlikely to be surpassed in terms of sheer mastery of this composer's music.

-- Gramophone [11/1985, reviewing the original CD release of these recordings, Decca 414417]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Morceaux de fantaisies (5), Op. 3: no 2, Prélude in C sharp minor by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Russia 
Length: 4 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Notes: 1974 - 1975 
2.
Preludes (10) for Piano, Op. 23 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1903; Russia 
Length: 35 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Notes: 1974 - 1975 
3.
Preludes (13) for Piano, Op. 32 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1910; Russia 
Length: 39 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Notes: 1974 - 1975 
4.
Sonata for Piano no 2 in B flat minor, Op. 36 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913/1931; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1980 
Length: 25 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Russia (1913).
Composition revised: Russia (1931). 

Sound Samples

Prelude in C sharp minor, Op.3, No.2
Prelude in F sharp minor, Op.23, No.1
Prelude in B flat, Op.23, No.2
Prelude in D minor, Op.23, No.3
Prelude in D, Op.23, No.4
Prelude in G minor, Op.23, No.5
Prelude in E flat, Op.23, No.6
Prelude in C minor, Op.23, No.7
Prelude in A flat, Op.23, No.8
Prelude in E flat minor, Op.23, No.9
Prelude in G flat, Op.23, No.10
Prelude in C, Op.32, No.1
Prelude in B flat minor, Op.32, No.2
Prelude in E, Op.32, No.3
Prelude in E minor, Op.32, No.4
Prelude in G, Op.32, No.5
Prelude in F minor, Op.32, No.6
Prelude in F, Op.32, No.7
Prelude in A minor, Op.32, No.8
Prelude in A, Op.32, No.9
Prelude in B minor, Op.32, No.10
Prelude in B major, Op.32, No.11
Prelude in G sharp minor, Op.32, No.12
Prelude in D flat major, Op.32, No.13
Piano Sonata No.2 in B flat minor, Op.36 - Original version (1913): 1. Allegro agitato
Piano Sonata No.2 in B flat minor, Op.36 - Original version (1913): 2. Non allegro - Lento
Piano Sonata No.2 in B flat minor, Op.36 - Original version (1913): 3. Allegro molto

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