RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor; Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor – Rachmaninov, piano/ Philadelphia Orchestra/ Leopold Stowkowski (No. 2)/Eugene Ormandy (No. 3) – RCA/Dutton/Vocalion CDVS 1915 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] *****:
Not much need to go into details about these oft-reissued original recordings of Rachmaninov playing Rachmaninov from 1929 and 1939-40 respectively. The RCA Red Seal set of Rachmaninov performing all four or his concerti plus the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini seemed to be a reaction at the time to the over-use of the new noise-reduction digital processes which were being employed on many Philips CDs. As I recall, in my review for Audio magazine I mentioned they sounded like the RCA engineers had actually added scratch and hiss to the originals instead of removing them.
Michael J. Dutton is one of the leading restoration audio engineers today and he has done a yeoman job of cleaning up these original without losing any of the music in the original grooves. One would be hard put to place the Second Concerto at originating from 1929. It’s most interesting to hear what liberties Rachmaninov took with his own music in these recordings. They’re most exciting though.
– John Sunier