Rachmaninov: Piano Transcriptions and Arrangements

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Piano Transcriptions and Arrangements
PERFORMER: Idil Biret (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.550978
One piece of advice about Rachmaninov’s transcriptions – don’t compare them too closely with the originals. They serve a different purpose and inhabit a plusher, more virtuosic world. It’s a world in which Idil Biret is completely at home. Listen to her beautiful, mincing staccato and the clarity of her counterpoint in the Bach Gavotte, the delicate shadings and shimmering finish in Schubert’s ‘Wohin’, the perfect control of repeated notes and the teasing agogic accents in Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, to which Rachmaninov added an original cadenza (track 6, 10:31). She passes with easy inevitability from the introduction into the main theme of Mussorgsky’s ‘Gopak’ and turns out a well-moulded account of the minuet from Bizet’s L’arlésienne.

Advertisement

Rachmaninov’s own songs ‘Daisies’ and ‘Lilacs’ might just as well have been included among the piano Preludes (‘Lilacs’ is a close relative of the G major Prelude, Op. 32/5, and Biret relishes its web-like traceries), and Kreisler must have loved his friend’s arrangements of ‘Liebesleid’ and ‘Liebesfreud’.

Advertisement

I have tiny reservations concerning Biret’s rather bumpy delivery of the Midsummer Night’s Dream scherzo (compare it with Moiseiwitsch on APR), and the actual transcription of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is frankly dull. Nevertheless, this really is a splendid disc. Wadham Sutton