Joseph Moog is a young pianist with a superb technique and a warm tone. He also composes. On this album, he interestingly pairs concertos by two of Russia’s foremost pianist-composers. Anton Rubinstein’s Fourth Piano Concerto actually was in Rachmaninoff’s repertory as a soloist. Drawing attention to the neglected Rubinstein concerto by following it with a more famous work is a device that certainly is welcome. The opening movement of the Rubinstein is heavily influenced by Schumann’s piano concerto, particularly its first movement. Moog here takes on the mantle of the Schumannesque lyric poet, his tonal palette featuring halftones of grays and browns. Moog’s second movement is a true andante , or walking tempo, unlike some other performances. He plays the affecting opening melody simply and directly, introducing a shadow of melancholy that he sustains beautifully throughout the movement.
While there is no knowing what whimsy prompted the fine fellows from the reissue department of EMI to release Vladimir Ovchinnikov's 1989 recording of both sets of Rachmaninov's Etudes-Tableaux in its "encore" series, one can only be grateful it did. Along with rereleasing both Richter's sublime Schumann disc and Barenboim's abysmal Beethoven disc, EMI has released for the first time this vivid and virtuosic Rachmaninov recording by Ovchinnikov.
From the notes: "The tapes from which these CD's are taken were discovered in Russia by a dedicated group of Richter enthusiasts. They bring us by far the most extensive sampling of Richter's live performances from the 1950's. And they do this in recorded sound that, while not the ultimate in fidelity, is superior to what we might have expected from early Russian tapes." Notes by Leslie Gerber [also the Producer]
Yuri Slessarev was born in 1947. He graduated from the Central Music School attached to Moscow Conservatory in 1966.Yuri Slessarev studied under the guidance of Maestro Victor Merzhanov at Moscow Conservatory. His natural gift and virtuoso qualities have been exhibited in many competitions. He became the Gold Medal Winner of the All Union Competition of the USSR held in Estonia in 1969. Yuri Slessarev won the International Competition in Montevideo (Uruguay). His professional concert career began quickly thereafter. Slesarev performs nearly all the virtuoso repertoire written for piano, including the works of Bach, Beethoven, Brams, Schubert, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and many more.
A majority of well-known composers have written at least a few chamber compositions in their entire lifetime. The most famous would have to be Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and probably Prokofiev. Some, including Respighi and Vaughan Williams, are overlooked or even rejected in today's society. Whether it's because of lack of originality or excessive complexities, these sorts of compositions are always left in the dark. Take Rachmaninov's Cello Sonata, for instance. This 35-minute work doesn't receive the complete recognition it deserves. It's overshadowed by the composer's piano concertos and symphonies, all of which are respectfully first-rate works in their own right.
Although Sergei Rachmaninov considered himself first and foremost a composer, the last two decades of his life found him knee-deep in his “second career” as a touring concert pianist and recording artist. In 1992, RCA Gold Seal brought out all of Rachmaninov’s recorded performances in a 10-disc set, now reprinted as a space-saving budget box.
Maria João Pires “shapes and colours every phrase, and with immaculate taste, and she makes sure the phrases end as eloquently as they begin,” wrote Gramophone in 1974. “She conveys not just the details but the relevance of every note to the whole … Best of all, she communicates everything she has discovered about the music, and it is worth having.” This Portuguese pupil of Wilhelm Kempff, Pires was one of the artists who defined the Erato label in the 1970s and 1980s. This 5-CD box gathers together the recordings she made over the period from 1976 to 1985 and it reflects the consistent focus of her repertoire, with its special emphasis on Austro-German composers of the Classical and early-Romantic periods. Embracing solo works, piano duets and concertos, it contains works by Mozart, Schumann, Beethoven, but also by Bach and Chopin.
Apart from the Takacs Quartet, whose spirited, youthful account for Hungaroton/Conifer (4/88) of Schumann's three quartets was marred by inferior recorded sound, no single group has as yet given us either a complete Schumann or Brahms quartet cycle on CD—and certainly not a composite set of all six works. So all gratitude to the Melos Quartet for filling the gap. Their playing is immediately enjoyable for its warmth, its rhythmic impulse and its very positive directness. To try and place it in sharper perspective I've nevertheless taken the liberty of comparing the two discs with my cherished old LP set of the same works from the Quartetto Italiano (Philips—nla). For even though this has recently been deleted, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find it back in the shops, digitally remastered, before too long.