Rachmaninov: Complete Solo Piano Music

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COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Complete Solo Piano Music
PERFORMER: Ruth Laredo (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SM5K 48467 DDD
Anyone already keen on Rachmaninov’s piano concertos and symphonies will find plenty to enjoy in his solo piano music. Stretching from his early but already characteristic C sharp minor Prelude to the Corelli Variations of 1931, they display his usual craftsmanship and refinement and stem from the same, typically nostalgic emotional world as his better-known orchestral works.

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The American pianist Ruth Laredo recorded his complete work in this genre (including his many transcriptions of music by other composers dating from his concert touring years after the First World War, ranging from Bach to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble-bee and Kreisler lollipops) in New York in the mid- to late-70s. Those seven LPs have now been remastered on to five CDs and released to mark the 50th anniversary of the composer’s death.

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The sound has come up vividly (if a little synthetically) in the transfers, allowing us to appreciate these fine, idiomatic interpretations. The pair of virtually symphonic sonatas come across in all their full-blooded glory, as do the equally powerful sets of Preludes and Etudes-tableaux, with even the apparently most insignificant short pieces given weight and distinction. Matthew Rye