David's Review Corner
, April 2020
The Sixth volume of Sergey Rachmaninov performing solo piano works, takes him through to 1924, a period with Victor Talking Machine Company in the United States.
It was a period that culminated with the early use of a symphony orchestra, though still using the acoustic method of recording. Even with the remarkable Audio Restoration Engineer, Ward Marston, some parts of the disc—the opening track is an example—shows its venerable age. It was, of course, at a time when recording was limited by the time that fits onto one side of a 78rpm disc. That necessity results in sixteen tracks that can best be described as ‘encores’. Though a number are no longer fashionable, Adolf von Henselt’s If I were a bird, and Rachmaninov’s delicate Lilacs are utterly charming. There are equally many well known pieces, and I love his phrasing of Chopin’s famous Fifth Nocturne, while the 1924 recording of the Third Scherzo had to wait more than three decades before it was released, and then it was part of an LP, though this burst of virtuosity was well worth the wait. A similar time lapse saw the very mannered account of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, in a reading that will make today’s ‘purists’ wince at so may liberties. Almost eighty minutes packed into a historic gem. © 2020 David’s Review Corner