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Rachmaninov: Corelli Variations, Etudes-Tableaux, Morceaux de Fantaisie / Nareh Arghamanyan


Release Date: 04/24/2012 
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186399   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Nareh Arghamanyan
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Nareh Arghamanyan has developed by leaps and bounds since her 2008 Concours Musical International de Montréal victory, followed by a debut solo disc containing proficient yet overly rhapsodic performances of Liszt’s B minor and Rachmaninov’s B-flat minor sonatas. Arghamanyan’s new all-Rachmaninov recital reveals a more disciplined, controlled, architecturally aware, and expressively sophisticated artist.

The Corelli Variations benefit from the Armenian pianist’s unified tempo relationships and overall symphonic approach in terms of rhythmic discipline, intelligently scaled dynamics, and a wide range of tone colors. Notice, for example, the wonderfully unfolding continuity she
Read more achieves by linking Variations 5, 6, and 7, even though the latter seems a bit slow in relation to the composer’s Vivace directive. Conversely, Arghamanyan enlivens Variation 3’s “question and answer” dynamic contrasts with specifically characterized accelerations. Variation 8’s myriad tempo modifications, however, are Rachmaninov’s own, and Arghamanyan proportions them to utter perfection. While the scherzando Variation 10 could be communicated in a lighter, more playful manner, Variation 12’s marcato and legato contrasts truly hit home. Listen also to how Arghamanyan shapes the Intermezzo’s rhetorical phrases and virtuosic filigree more or less in tempo, yet with seemingly boundless nuance. The shorter pieces prove no less absorbing. Arghamanyan’s thoughtful textural layering of the C-sharp minor Prelude Op. 3 No. 2 amounts to a newly minted rendition of an overplayed warhorse. She markedly differentiates the B-flat minor Serenade’s expansive cantabiles and quiet stabbing chords much as the composer did in his classic 1940 recording. Each one of the Op. 33 Etudes-Tableaux fuses virtuosic refinement, textural clarity, and a gift for revealing the narrative behind the melodies that many younger pianists lack. Out of curiosity I compared Arghamanyan’s C major Op. 33 No. 2 alongside Yuja Wang’s contemporaneous DG recording, and wound up preferring Arghamanyan for her more expansive phrasing and riper sonority, helped by PentaTone’s full-bodied, lifelike multi-channel sonics. Arghamanyan’s own booklet notes discuss her responses to the music in eloquent, articulate, and refreshingly non-indulgent prose. A terrific release in every way.

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com

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Works on This Recording

1.
Variations on a theme of Corelli, Op. 42 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Nareh Arghamanyan (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1931; USA 
2.
Morceaux de fantaisies (5), Op. 3 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Nareh Arghamanyan (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Russia 
3.
Etudes-tableaux (9) for Piano, Op. 33 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Nareh Arghamanyan (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1911; Russia 

Sound Samples

Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3: No. 1. Elegie in E flat minor
Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3: No. 2. Prelude in C sharp minor
Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3: No. 3. Melodie in E major
Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3: No. 4. Polichinelle in F sharp minor
Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3: No. 5. Serenade in B flat minor
Etudes-tableaux, Op. 33: No. 1 in F minor: Allegro non troppo
Etudes-tableaux, Op. 33: No. 2 in C major: Allegro
Etudes-tableaux, Op. 33: No. 3 in C minor: Grave
Etudes-tableaux, Op. 33: No. 4 in D minor: Moderato
Etudes-tableaux, Op. 33: No. 5 in E flat minor: Non allegro
Etudes-tableaux, Op. 33: No. 6 in E flat major: Allegro con fuoco
Etudes-tableaux, Op. 33: No. 7 in G minor: Moderato
Etudes-tableaux, Op. 33: No. 8 in C sharp minor: Grave
Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42: Theme: Andante
Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42: Variations 1-7
Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42: Variations 8-12
Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42: Variation 13: Agitato
Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42: Intermezzo
Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42: Variations 14-20
Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42: Coda: Andante

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