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Classical - Released January 29, 2021 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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The crushing failure of Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 1 at its premiere on 15 March 1897 plunged its young author into a deep depression from which he would later issue Concerto No. 2, composed in compensation for this disaster and under the influence of a medical treatment based on hypnosis. This first Symphony was ambitious. The young artist wanted to express so many feelings that the score bulged, opaque in terms of its form and profuse by the admission of the writer, who would go on to denigrate it later. This cursed score would never be played again during the composer's lifetime and the manuscript remains lost. It was reconstructed, probably with the help of orchestral parts, and recreated in Moscow in 1945. Captured in concert in 2018, here it is adorned with a thousand and one colours from the Philadelphia Orchestra under the charged, powerful and imaginative direction of Yannick Nézet-Seguin who believes in this work and conducts it as a masterpiece and not in any sense for the purpose of rehabilitation. Under such an inspired baton, this youthful opus 13 can happily be presented next to Rachmaninov's final score for orchestra, one of the most successful: the famous Symphonic Dances that are a metaphor for the three ages of man. Rachmaninov's obsession with bells and the Catholic theme of the Dies Irae is well known, both of which he sets to music in virtually all of his works; it is already the case in Symphony No. 1 and it will be the case again in the masterful Symphonic Dances performed here by the orchestra for which they were written in 1940, three years before the composer's death in California, where he had gone into exile. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released April 12, 2019 | Naxos

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Although he now lives in Israel and was mostly trained there, pianist Boris Giltburg is a representative of the pure Russian school -- powerful, brilliant, and sweeping. Rachmaninov ought to be his métier, and so it is. For clean passagework at the highest possible skill level, Giltburg is a pianist to turn to now, and where the excitement is built into the piano writing, so to speak, the spirit of Rachmaninov himself will seem to breathe in his playing. Sample the Prelude in C minor, Op. 23, No. 7, which begins with almost impossible speed and then adds multiple counterpoints; few pianists can hold the whole structure gently in hand the way Giltburg can. The famous prelude that announced Rachmaninov to the world, the Morceau de Fantaisie in C sharp minor, Op. 3, No. 2, has plenty of monumental power. Where Rachmaninov offers programmatic mystery, or approaches Chopin's rarefied world, Giltburg is merely good, not great. But go see him if he's in your town on tour with these: he's the type of player to bring the crowd to their feet, and this recording is as good a place as any to start with him. Giltburg benefits from fine sound engineering at the entirely acoustically appropriate Wyastone Estate concert hall. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 12, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
The Philadelphia Orchestra has been named "Gramophone's Orchestra of the Year 2020".
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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released October 11, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Daniil Trifonov's journey around the world of Rachmaninov is at an end. The pianist has arrived safely into the harbour with Yannick Nézet-Seguin's Philadelphia Orchestra. This finale was inspired by the bells which are ubiquitous in the Great Russian soundscape. Alain Corbin explained their importance to the rhythmic and symbolic scansion of everyday life in 19th Century France in his book Village Bells. To the historian's analysis, we can now add the testimony of the pianist – who, like Rachmaninov, grew up in Novgorod. Russian bells leant Russian music its nobility and colouring of folk nostalgia. Daniil Trifonov hasn't forgotten this, as is clear from his piano transcription of the first episode of Les Cloches. He was wise enough to respect the operatic power of the score and the splendour of its orchestration: harp, celesta and flutes are all truly transformed into bells in the hands of a musician who stays true to the aura of disquieting oddness (with its shades of Edgar Allen Poe) which surrounds the first movement. His technique matches his capricious and bubbling imagination. While we might find ourselves yawning a little at the Vocalise, the first and third Concertos move us from thrilling ecstasies to tears of pleasure. A very fine record, in which the orchestra, perhaps a little distant, fulfils its role as a soundbox for the soloist. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Classical - Released May 11, 2018 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
While Israeli-Russian pianist Boris Giltburg’s career is taking off all over the world, he has felt very close to Belgium ever since he won first prize in the 2013 Queen Elisabeth Competition. After several recordings for EMI (Warner), here he gives a studio rendition of the Third Concerto, and the Variations on a Theme of Corelli by Sergei Rachmaninov, on his tenth album for Naxos, which completes his often-unique approach to the Russian pianist-composer. The Études-tableaux and the Second Concerto divided opinion, with some seeing him as a "new Glenn Gould" (sic) who would do away with routines, while others drew attention to the total indifference of his style. Boris Giltburg's technique is such that he can give free rein to his imagination while taking care of the minute details of one of the most difficult concertos in the repertoire. Fascinated by the manufacture of instruments, in 2016 he took up the new 102-key piano from French manufacturer Stephen Paulello, a thrilling instrument which the musical world has been eagerly anticipating for a long time, and which proves that, just like in the 19th century, the piano can still evolve towards other sounds. For this Concerto n° 3, recorded at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall, Boris Giltburg returns to his dear Fazioli piano and is joined by Mexican conductor Carlo Miguel Prieto at the head of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 19, 2021 | LSO Live

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One of Rachmaninoff’s most popular pieces, the Second Symphony is an indulgently melancholic and sentimental work: a magic box of the late-Romantic orchestra. Dramatic sections played by the full orchestra contrast heart-breaking swells that only this composer could have written. The LSO has a long history with the Second Symphony, recording it many times with conductors such as André Previn, Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Valery Gergiev. For this recording, which was captured during the opening of the London Symphony Orchestra's 2019/20 season at the Barbican Hall, Sir Simon Rattle conducted from memory, performing the uncut version of this symphonic treasure. © LSO Live
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Classical - Released May 6, 2016 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Record of the Month
Boris Giltburg's 2016 release on Naxos consists of two sets of piano pieces by Sergey Rachmaninov, the Études-tableaux, Op. 39 (1916-1917), and the Moments musicaux, Op. 16 (1896). The Études-tableaux are a cross between technical studies and character pieces, reminiscent of the etudes of Frédéric Chopin, and they present considerable challenges, even to virtuoso pianists. Here, Giltburg displays his remarkable skills, as well as a range of expressions that run from the fiery and turbulent to the atmospheric and melancholy. In the Moments musicaux, Rachmaninov experimented with short forms, such as the nocturne, etude, funeral march, barcarolle, and theme with variations, and these pieces demonstrated his mastery of piano technique, if not yet his full maturity as a composer. Giltburg's playing brings out a variety of colors and textures, and his passionate interpretations accord with Rachmaninov's youthful, ardent style. The recording in the Concert Hall, Wyastone Leys, Monmouth offers a big sound with great resonance, though all the details of the music are easily heard, thanks to close microphone placement. © TiVo
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Solo Piano - Released February 16, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Unfortunately no, dear reader, there is no such thing as a cycle of “24 Preludes” by Rachmaninoff; however there are indeed 24 Preludes: a collection of ten Op. 23 from 1903, 13 other Op. 32 from 1910 and one isolated Prelude from the Morceaux de fantaisie Op. 3 (Fantasy Pieces) from 1893. In total: 24 Preludes, in which as a simple count shows Rachmaninoff − much like Chopin and of course Bach − illustrated all major and minor tones. Deliberately random, or the involuntary drive to create a reasonably coherent cycle? Contrary to his two illustrious predecessors, Rachmaninoff didn’t order his Preludes according to a specific tonal plan: the musician’s fantasy develops bit by bit. Nikolai Lugansky – described by the famous magazine Gramophone as “the most innovative and transcendent interpreter of all” (so much for the others…), truly an extraordinarily deep and polyvalent pianist – decided to present the Preludes in the order prescribed by partitions, rather than reorganising them according to some hypothetical tonal logic, without knowing if Rachmaninoff would even have recommended or even considered it, particularly as the constant alternation of moods, independently of any tonal consideration, gives the piece a sense of perfect coherence. Finally it’s worth mentioning that Lugansky offers a very “original” interpretation of this divine music, which may feel like a re-discovery to some listeners. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 10, 2017 | Sony Classical

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The notes for this Sony Classical release of Rachmaninoff's two most popular piano concertos raise the question of overexposure, which may be put to many classical warhorses that are recorded repeatedly and sold to the public time and again. While Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor and his Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor are indeed among the most popular concertos of all time and the most frequently programmed of his four piano concertos, practically every virtuoso feels obligated to record them, and labels often try to disguise the redundancy of the product through eye-catching packaging and hype. Fortunately, this 2017 release by Khatia Buniatishvili and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Paavo Järvi, offers something that is of real value in the extraordinarily clear performances and the transparent recorded sound. Whether it was achieved through close microphone placement or judicious engineering in the studio, Buniatishvili is fully audible and placed squarely in the center of the mix, so her incisive playing is never dulled by the periodic thickness of the orchestration or swamped by acoustics. The exposition of the first movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 immediately reveals how well she sounds, elevated above the ponderous statement of the main theme. However, Buniatishvili is at her finest in the quieter slow movements, where her refined playing and sensitive expressions are natural and unforced, and Rachmaninoff's limpid scoring gives her room to breathe. Newcomers to these concertos would do well to consider this recording as one of the best available, while Buniatishvili's fans will be thrilled by her dazzling playing. © TiVo
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Keyboard Concertos - Released May 1, 1966 | Chandos

Distinctions Choc du Monde de la Musique - 10 de Répertoire - The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Symphonic Music - Released September 3, 2013 | Naxos

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Symphonic Music - Released April 2, 2013 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
This recording of Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44, and Symphonic Dances, Op. 45, is notable in the history of American classical music over and above its specifically musical qualities, for it marks the phoenix-like revival of an orchestra given up for dead. As the finances of America's hardest-hit city declined during the 2007-2010 recession, the orchestra suffered a crippling strike and general gloom about its future. Due not least to the leadership of music director Leonard Slatkin, the organization has rebounded and launched a modest recording program. What's perhaps most exciting about that is the reentry of Detroit's Orchestra Hall, fabled for the recordings made by conductor Paul Paray for the Mercury label's Living Presence series, into the catalog. It is an exceptional 1920s space, modest in size and warm in sound, in all ways closer to what Rachmaninov would have imagined for his music than the modernist sarcophagi with which so many such halls have been replaced. You even get a picture of the hall wedged into Naxos' unvarying design. Slatkin has talked in the past about how he adapts his Rachmaninov performances to this space, and he does so again here. The more garish aspects of the Symphonic Dances, with its Dies irae quotation morphing into a Russian Alleluia, and the percussion parts generally, are kept under control, while the symphony's glorious melodies, the last stand of the Romantic era in 1936, are allowed to flower luxuriantly. A crack Russian or British orchestra might be smoother in places, but there is a confident musicality here that is immensely appealing, and it has everything to do with a group of young players who realize that they are under the gun and have what it takes to succeed, under seasoned leadership. Highly recommended. © TiVo
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 10, 2015 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Sergey Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil, also known as the Vespers, is among his most admired works, and it was one of the composer's own favorites, along with The Bells. This 2015 Chandos release by Charles Bruffy and the combined voices of the Phoenix Chorale and the Kansas City Chorale presents the music in the super audio format, so the richness of the divisi choral parts and the depth of the basso profundo come across fully in the multichannel reproduction. Bruffy is the musical director of both groups, so his special rapport with them creates an even ensemble blend that balances the largely homophonic textures, and brings a consistency of approach to the three styles of chant Rachmaninov imitated, Kievan, Greek, and Znamenny. The beauty of the a cappella voices and the surprisingly lush harmonies make this setting immediately appealing and ultimately moving, and listeners who enjoy sacred choral music for inspiration or meditation will find the All-Night Vigil's smooth flow and expressive warmth well-suited to those purposes. © TiVo
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Keyboard Concertos - Released June 1, 1993 | Chandos

Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released August 7, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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These Rachmaninoff recordings by pianist Sergei Babayan were made in Hamburg in 2009. The graphics are silent on what caused the 11-year time lag before they were released by the Deutsche Grammophon label in 2020, and on whether Babayan made them as a set or recorded other material at the same time. This is too bad, for someone deserves the credit. It may be Babayan himself, who is an exceptional Rachmaninoff interpreter. The words "delicate" and "spontaneous" aren't commonly raised in talking about Rachmaninoff, but they apply here. Babayan avoids the mighty Rachmaninoff of the giant hands, selecting quieter pieces that only intermittently build to fortissimo. Instead, he ties the composer to a tradition that was reaching its tail end in his time: that of improvisation by concert pianists. In these performances, one can feel the thrill Rachmaninoff's audiences must have experienced even when he was not spanning and pounding the keyboard: the rippling, shimmering runs, the free rhythms, the sense that even greater mysteries than those heard are being held back and promised for later. The presence of three transcriptions (two by Arcadi Volodos and one by Rachmaninoff) further suggests that Babayan shaped the program himself, for they fit into the remarkable sense of flow that the music has overall. In a marketplace filled with unimaginative beginning-to-end traversals of the Rachmaninoff Preludes or Etudes-Tableaux, here is a program that Rachmaninoff might have offered. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 8, 2005 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Sacred Vocal Music - Released July 21, 2017 | Genuin

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Classical - Released April 27, 2010 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released February 24, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4 étoiles Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
This group of Rachmaninov piano trios was released in celebration of the 70th birthday of Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer. One might have expected something that placed Kremer more in the spotlight than chamber music, and perhaps something devoted to the enormous influence he has had in reviving neglected Baltic and Eastern European repertory. On greater reflection, though, the decision is typical: Kremer has always been one who guides rather than one who takes the spotlight himself, and he has recorded a great deal of Russian music, often in fresh ways. So it is here with Rachmaninov. His two "trios élégiaques" are both youthful works; the Trio élégiaque No. 2 in D minor, Op. 9, was composed when he was 21, and the person being given the elegy was the late Tchaikovsky, whose own piano trio also had a set of variations for its central movement. The trios give priority not to the violin, but to the piano, and for chamber music partners Kremer chooses a mix of his own generation -- cellist Giedré Dirvanauskaité -- and the new one, Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov. It's an effective constellation overall, with Trifonov getting the virtuoso parts and the two older players putting in commentary. This isn't top-drawer Rachmaninov (the Trio No. 2 is a bit sprawling), but the group captures its mood of bravado and interiority. Another bonus is the rarely heard Preghiera, the slow movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, arranged for piano trio by none other than Fritz Kreisler. Sample this, for it introduces the fresh balances that are the distinctive feature of this recording. Deutsche Grammophon's sound, from the wooden and gentle Trifolion hall in Echternach, Luxembourg, is idiomatic to the music and exceptionally pleasant. © TiVo