> Rachmaninov Piano Concerti Moiseiwitsch 8110676 []: Classical Reviews- April2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Piano Concerto No. 1 [23.35]
Piano Concerto No. 2 [32.51]
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini [21.47]

Benno Moiseiwitsch (piano)
Philharmonia/Sargent (No. 1); Liverpool PO (2; Rhapsody); Walter Goehr (2); Basil Cameron (Rhapsody)
rec Studio 1 Abbey Road, 23 Dec 1948 (No. 1); 24 Nov 1937, 13 Dec 1937 (No. 2); 5 Dec 1938 (Rhapsody) Mono ADD
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110676 [78.12]
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This is the fourth salvo in the Moiseiwitsch series.

Sargent and the Philharmonia show cracking form in the First Concerto - a pathfinder for Kondrashin's brimming and nervy athletic spirit in the Symphonic Dances. Their attack is matched by Moiseiwitsch's gripping and dynamic approach which clears five-bar gates at a single galloping leap. As the second movement shows he can also handle the poetry. Listen, in the allegro vivace, to Sargent and Moisewitsch laying into the crystal glass. This is a smashing performance - as special as the Sammons' Elgar Concerto (also on a recent Naxos). The recording is captured in the twilight of the 78 era.

Volume 3 in the Naxos Moiseiwitsch Edition gave rather ho-hum performances of the first two Tchaikovsky Piano Concertos. These were not at all impressive - far too sober when they, or at least the First, need to be as wild as a mustang and as soulful as Chaliapin. In the Rachmaninov Second there is sweetness but everything is very low key and deliberate. Where is the glint in the eye? Perhaps the chemistry between soloist and conductor omitted volatility. If you are looking for a plain Jane interpretation without what you may regard as hysteria then this is the version for you. The recorded sound is very well rendered: listen to the grunt of the piano's basso tones captured with such fidelity at the start of the concerto.

Things go much better in the Rhapsody with Basil Cameron (original Basil von Hindenburg - a name he understandably dropped during his sojourn with the Torquay Municipal Orchestra at the time of the Great War) freshly returned from his spell as conductor of the San Francisco Symphony. Some of the magnetic force we perceive in the First Concerto with Sargent is there with Cameron. Everyone is on their toes and Moisewitsch's way with the Andante cantabile is gorgeous even if we miss the voluptuous 'pile' of the Philadelphian strings (to be heard in their recording with the composer and Stokowski four years before the Cameron session - Naxos 8.110602).

The documentation (English only) and discographic detail is princely and the separate tracking of each of the variations is another indicative mark of the high production values of the project. Nice transfers by Ward Marston and due tribute paid to Raymond Edwards and Donald Manildi who, presumably, provided the 78s from which these digital transfers were made.

A disc made utterly recommendable by the Moiseiwitsch/Sargent recording of the First Concerto. Any chance of hearing Moiseiwitsch (with the right conductor!) in the last two Rachmaninov piano concertos? On song he should be a world-beater up there with Michelangeli in the Fourth Concerto.

Rob Barnett


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