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Rachmaninov_ Babayan



Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Sonata No.2 in B flat minor Op.35 (1839) [22:39]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Variations on a theme of Chopin, Op.22 (1902-03) [18:44]
Robert Goldsand (piano)
rec. 1950s

My second encounter with Robert Goldsand via Forgotten Records’ restoration of his 1950s recordings proves no less impressive than that earlier disc of the Opp.10 and 25 Etudes [FR719]. Here he plays Chopin and Rachmaninoff in performances culled from two Musical Masterpieces Society LPs. As a result the total timing is, unfortunately, very short at 41 minutes, notwithstanding the quality of the playing or the relative rarity of the material.
Goldsand’s playing of Chopin’s sonata is passionate and dramatic, with powerful ritards, and a sense of constant engagement with the music. His tone is variegated and he brings wit and verve to the Scherzo, and a refined poetry to the B section of the funeral march which is shot through with a powerfully rounded tone. Here he produces an almost dreamlike effect. It renders the music as a kind of subconscious narrative – magnificently conceived, and played with real conviction. The coupling is Rachmaninov’s Variations on a Theme of Chopin, an appropriate piece of programming. This is, quite simply, one of the very best readings imaginable of the piece though one that is often overlooked in the welter of new releases and indeed those reissues from the past in performances by better-known pianists and far starrier labels than MMS. Refinement and elegant are transmitted via unfussy virtuosity, in playing that is full of colour and leads with inexorable logic to a triumphant conclusion.
Goldsand’s reissues lead one to wonder what kind of reputation he could have established had his recordings been made for more well-known international labels. As it is, his reputation amongst those who know his playing remains that of a revered teacher, as well as a special interpreter whose circumstances led to a rather narrow sphere of influence. First-class restorations such as this ensure that his name is, at least, kept before the public who will be enthusiastic to find other examples of his playing.
Jonathan Woolf