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Jeremy Nicholas
Gramophone, July 2017

There are two takes of each work—except the Liszt Rhapsody which has three—for no other reason than Edison requiring more than one perfect take so that the stamper could be replaced when it wore out. Each take varies little from the other, though there is a rare fluffed note at 0’22” in the first take of the Scarlatti-Tausig Pastorale. The Liszt Rhapsody is simply stunning, replete with Rachmaninov’s own stylistically anachronistic cadenza. As Jonathan Summers observes in his quite excellent note, ‘his cast-iron technique is breathtaking and the three consecutive takes show its infallibility’. Whether or not you approve of the way he handles Chopin’s Op 42 Waltz or the theme-and-variations movement from K331, Rachmaninov’s pianism is utterly and undeniably compelling. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2017

An indispensable release for collectors of historical performances, with different ‘takes’ made by Sergey Rachmaninov of six works recorded for Thomas Edison. They date from April 1919, just after he had taken up residency in the United States aged forty-five. To ‘escape’ from Russia he had left everything he possessed, and now, looking to make money as fast as he could, he had taken up Edison’s recording offer. Unlike his later sessions for the Victor label, Rachmaninov had no artistic input, but simply recorded each work three times so they had two spare versions to replace the first one when it become worn when making copies in the factory. Even those with mistakes would be retained and used, Edison only too pleased that Rachmaninov could play the work exactly the same each time. That is shown here by the total timing of each ‘take’ which was almost identical. Though electrical recording was available, these were made by the acoustic method, and while surface noise was a major problem, the sound of the piano was of a remarkable quality, Rachmaninov’s mercurial fingers caught with such clean delineation. Maybe he was not an ideal interpreter of Mozart, though his hurried reading was probably dictated by the time available on one disc side. Scarlatti was played in an arrangement by Carl Tausig and shows some knowledge of the style required, though it is when we come to the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody and Rachmaninov’s famous Prelude that we hear him in the musical world he loved. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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