P1290. SERGEI RACHMANINOFF: Rachmaninoff Plays Symphonic Dances - A Newly Discovered 1940 Recording of
an impromptu gathering in 1940. Sergei Rachmaninoff demonstrated at the piano just how he wanted his new orchestral work, SYMPHONIC DANCES, to be performed. 3-Marston 53022, recorded 1903-13. Transfers by Ward Marston. - 638335302225
“One of the most incredible releases of the year – and in fact of all time – is Marston’s incredible set devoted to the private recording of Sergei Rachmaninoff playing through his Symphonic Dances at the piano in Eugene Ormandy’s living room in late 1940, a few weeks before the orchestral work’s premiere. I knew that a Rachmaninoff discovery had been made though I was told that I would need to wait for the details, and when Marston approached me to ask if I would produce the promotional video for the set, I was thrilled to learn what had been found – and of course once I heard the playing, I couldn’t have been more amazed. I literally lost sleep for the first two nights that I had the recordings, waking up in the middle of the night to listen again to the stunning playing, unlike anything else we have of the great Rachmaninoff. It has been reported that many who heard him in concert stated that his playing in commercial recordings was different than what they had heard, and this discovery reveals what they are pointing to: soaring phrasing, dynamic and tonal shadings of remarkable refinement, and rhythmic tautness are simply some of the amazing qualities on display…and hearing the composer sing along while he plays is incredibly insightful as well.
Also included in the set is another recording very close to my heart: Benno Moiséiwitsch’s 1946 BBC broadcast of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. I had first obtained this on cassette in the late 1980s and shared it enthusiastically with my contacts, including Gregor Benko and Bryan Crimp; the latter then sent it to Moiséiwitsch’s daughter, who had never heard it before and said she thought it was her father’s greatest reading of the work, while Benko stated that it could be his favourite recording of anyone playing anything….at long last the source material was located, and the performance now sounds as good as one could hope for… and the playing goes well beyond that.”
- Mark Ainley, THE PIANO FILES, 1 Jan., 2019