Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

SERGEI RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No. 2 * The Isle of the Dead  SCHUBERT-TAUSIG Marche Militaire WEBER-TAUSIG Invitation to the Dance    * Earl Wild (piano) RPO/Jascha Horenstein rec Walthamstow Town Hall, London, 1965   CHESKY CD2 [65.43]

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These recordings are the stuff of which golden discoveries are made. We all know that in our musical explorations we can discover and joy in a work in a version which is routine or poorly recorded or both. Later we may abandon that recording. Often however the recording through which we discover a piece is something to which we return time and again - sometimes recapturing that first rapturous frisson.

Well, fortunate those who discover Rachmaninov's second concerto through this recording. Although getting on for forty years old it wears its technical age very handsomely. As for the performance, Wild is in supreme form. He is technically awesome but more to the point (no Heifetz he!) he retains and emotes with wonderful sensitivity and yet avoids bathos. I cannot say any more about the performance except that it is desert island material.

The Horenstein Isle of the Dead is touched with the inexorable breathing of glutinously moving waters - the throb of the slow swell and an infinite resigned sadness. This is a very special recording to join Kondrashin's 1960s recording of the Symphonic Dances. The two make-weight solo piano pieces flesh out the playing time neatly but just a little incongruously. Still, I would rather have them than not!

The ideal complement to the other Chesky Rachmaninov-Wilds. Recommended. Note that in the UK the Chandos two-CD coupling of concertos 1-4 is a more economical way of getting the concertos. However, for that you have to abandon the Horenstein Isle of the Dead. All Rachmaninovians will want this disc.


Rob Barnett

See also

SERGEI RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 1 (1893) 24.00 Piano Concerto No. 4 (1926) 24.00 Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Earl Wild (piano) RPO/Jascha Horenstein

SERGEI RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3*(1909)  EDWARD MACDOWELL Piano Concerto No. 2** (1884-88)  *Earl Wild (piano) RPO/Jascha Horenstein rec London 20 May and 3 June 1965; **Earl Wild (piano) RCA Victor SO/Massimo Freccia rec London 14 Feb 1967


Rob Barnett

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