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Rachmaninoff pianists

Discussion in 'Pianists' started by richard66, Aug 28, 2015.

  1. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Just a little question: who are at present the greatst interpreters of Rachmaninoff's Piano music? I am not quite into concerts as I once was so I really cannot come up with any names.
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I really wouldn't know. It's so personal, one person's favorite might be despised by someone else. As a rule the Russians do it best, I think. Plenty of choice there.
     
  3. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, Chris.
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I have not spent time listening to current pianists playing Rach's music, either. But I always like Kissin.
     
  5. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I've not really listened to a huge amount of Rachmaninov recently.. quite surprisingly.

    In general I'm not that keen on Kissin - I think his tone has got more brittle with age and I don't think it's rounded enough for Rachmaninov. Volodos, on the other hand, I think has exactly the right sound. Earl Wild had a special affinity with Rachmaninov, but sadly he's no longer with us. I've not spent enough time on the younger generation to give an informed comment, though I'm not a fan of Lisitsa and find her heavily technique-oriented. Ashkenazy was good in this area when he was younger and his concerto recordings are very solid. Thibaudet's Rach 1 was good but I think he's not quite enough of a "big" pianist when it comes to the likes of Rach 3.
     
  6. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, Monica and Andrew.

    I have never been a fan of Kissin and probably will never be.

    I am surprised you should soil these pages with the name of Lisitsa. She is not a pianist, but a propagandandist and shoul be treated as such. I will not ellaborate on it here, as this is not the place for it. Suffice it to say her only public is on YouTube and views can be readily bought on the net for resonable sums. Any other information about her are available online but does not make for edifying reading.

    It seems then there are not that many around that can play Rachmaninoff, are there, excepting Volodos? Sigh.
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    IMHO Ashkenazy's concerto recordings with the CGO and Haitink are peerless. He's probably not quite *that* good anymore today, being foremost a conductor now.
     
  8. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    A great pianist. I am, however, more familiar with his recordings of Mozart's concerti. Even in those days he was conducting them.
     
  9. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    A good question, one that I've been wondering about myself recently, though the more I listen to the current generation of pianists, the more depressed I become.

    Couldn't agree more about Kissin and Lisitsa. Both their performances of the big B-flat major prelude from Op. 23, for example, seem the definition of pianistic brutality. Lisitsa sure is a grubby self--promoter on Youtube. She reminds me of that old cartoon character Gumby, what with her rubber bands for arms.

    I've listened to all of Ashkenazy's preludes from op. 23 and op. 32, and I can only repeat the oft-cited cliche about never being able to get those two hours of my life back. He's a solid pianist technically, unlike many other moderns, but I find almost everything he does unimaginative and bland.

    One more modern pianist (though he had a stroke and is on his way out now, I'm sorry to say) I love in general, and also on Rachmaninoff, is Michael Ponti, especially his live Dante recordings though these are rather hard to get any more. He has also recorded the complete works of Rachmaninoff for Vox (which is still available), but I find these rather tinny as well as musically tentative and lacking in textural balance. (Ponti has a tremendous repertoire, with the possible result that some of his numerous complete cycles lack polish.) If you can manage to get a hold of them, I'd highly recommend his live performances of the Second Sonata both on Dante and at the Newport Music Festival.

    If you're willing to extend your horizon beyond just the present-day pianists, I can also make several recommendations. I think my favorite Rachmaninoff overall is Richter's, actually preferring it overall to the composer's own. I'd especially recommend his Etudes-Tableaux live performances, and his B-flat Major prelude is almost an iconic performance. Horowitz is IMO less consistently good though there's some great stuff here too, his big E-flat minor Etude-tableau and lugubrious B minor Moment Musical coming readily to mind. And of course there's his incredible Rach 3, which he did with many conductors, but I think my fav is the one with Reiner in the early 50s (another great and very different one is with Coates, from the 30s I believe). Of course, Rachmaninoff's own recordings of his concerti (even more so than his performances of his solo works) are IMHO a must-listen for any classical piano aficionado.

    Joe
     
  10. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yup, nasty business and even with all the charity in the world it is hard to explain what on earth she was thinking about.

    I don't think he's done anything since the mid-90s, iirc that was when he had the stroke. I'm told some of the Vox recordings were made on the thinnest of shoestrings: in some cases on an upright and he slept in the studio between sessions!

    Not a living pianist, but the Bolet masterclasses on Rach 3 (on youtube) are fascinating viewing.
     
  11. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Richard,

    As for interpreting Rachmaninoff, how about Lugansky and Beresovsky?

    David
     

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