Review by: Jed Distler
Artistic Quality: 8
Sound Quality: 5
Even in its day, Rachmaninov’s 1929 recording of his popular Second Concerto was not quite state-of-the-art, sound wise. However, its newest sonic facelift via the good hands and ears of Mark Obert-Thorn boasts more detail and dynamic fullness than BMG’s clear but overfiltered restoration for their “Complete Rachmaninov” boxed set. The composer/pianist is in a less patient mood than his conductor, who is apt to wallow in his lush surroundings. Rachmaninov’s breezy and laconic sprint through his Third Concerto, though, is a leaner kettle of fish, and not so tasty. He deletes one of the first movement’s most gorgeous harmonic sequences, and makes two large cuts in the finale. It’s also odd that this nonpareil technician evades his more difficult alternate passages. So did Horowitz, but the younger pianist brought out the score’s harmonic tension and dark undercurrents with more conviction. Rachmaninov is Rachmaninov, though, and how can you go wrong with that, especially at Naxos’ unbeatable price?
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: Rubinstein/Reiner-No.2 (BMG), Argerich/Chailly-No.3 (Philips)
SERGEI RACHMANINOV - Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3