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Liszt : Transcriptions & Paraphrases + Rachmaninov : Concerto no.3 [sound…

af Franz Liszt (Komponist), Sergei Rachmaninoff (composer)

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Sergei Rachmaninov (1873–1943)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30

[1] I. Allegro ma non tanto
[2] II. Intermezzo: Adagio
[3] III. Finale: Alla breve

Jorge Bolet, piano
Indiana University Symphony Orchestra
Charles Webb*

Franz Liszt (1811–1886)
Lieder Transcriptions

[4] Die Forelle (Schubert)
[5] Mädchens Wunsch (Chopin)
[6] Widmung (Schumann)
Opera Paraphrases
[7] Réminiscences de Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)
[8] Spinner-Lied (Wagner, Der fliegende Holländer)
[9] Rigoletto Paraphrase (Verdi)

Jorge Bolet, piano

Recorded: 30 June 1969, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA (Live, 1-3); 1969, Casino de l'aliança del Poble Nou, Barcelona, Spain (4-9).

Palexa, 1997. TT: 68 min. Piano: Baldwin (Rachmaninov). Liner notes by Jean-Pascal Hamelin (English+French).

*The booklet mentions neither the date nor the conductor; they are taken from the invaluable discography of Jorge Bolet compiled by Farhan Malik and Michael Glover. The booklet also gives a wrong year (1970) for the paraphrases.


The solo piano pieces on this disc are easily found elsewhere. They were released on CD by Ensayo in 2002. They are also included in the recent (2014) RCA/Sony box-set (10 CD) dedicated to Bolet’s complete recordings for these labels. Though originally made in Spain for a Spanish label, the Ensayo LPs were released in the US by RCA in the 1970s. What I have to say about Bolet’s playing in these paraphrases I have said elsewhere. It isn’t much. Consummate mastery like that needs no comment. Just play the CD and dissolve yourself into the music.

Pretty much the same is true of this legendary performance of the Third Concerto. It has acquired quite a reputation among fans of Bolet and Rachmaninoff. Jean-Pascal Hamelin rightly mentions Rachmaninoff’s own and Horowitz’s several recordings (including the unofficial live ones with Barbirolli and Koussevitzky) in the same league as Bolet in 1969. He has indeed the same transcendental virtuosity that scorns the monstrous technical difficulties and the same nearly infallible instinct for the most effective musical expression. By modern standards, he is rather on the fast side, but there never is anything rushed, unmusical or ugly. Bolet even makes perfect musical sense of those monumental chords that lead to the first-movement climax; far too many pianists simply bang them aimlessly, mindlessly, atrociously. He chooses, as did Horowitz and Rachmaninoff, the shorter cadenza and, again like his mythical predecessors (and perhaps even a bit better than them!), creates a whirlwind of sound and logic. The lyrical episodes, and there are plenty of them, are beautiful beyond words. That, of course, is the key phrase for the whole performance: beyond words.

Where’s the catch, you ask? Yes, there is one; there always is. The sound is poor. It is mono, and not a very good one either, and the piano has a most unpleasant metallic edge. The orchestra is surprisingly well captured, particularly in the more robust passages, but there are a good many rough moments. Never mind. It’s not much of a price to pay for artistry of this calibre (yet another similarity with Rachmaninoff and Horowitz).

Jean-Pascal Hamelin, in addition to indifferent biographical background, has some very interesting things to say about cuts. According to him, Jorge makes three in this recording: 2 bars from the cadenza in the first movement, 14 bars in the second movement (8:53), and 24 bars in the third movement (4:41). If these figures are correct, they compare rather nicely with other recordings. Again according to Monsieur Hamelin, Rachmaninoff’s mighty recording is 64 bars shorter, while Horowitz employed different cuts every time (74 bars in 1930, 34 in 1941, 29 in 1950, 36 in 1951, and only 2 in 1978).

I am in the minority that doesn’t like a bit less Bolet’s more meditative late recording of this mighty concerto (1982, Decca, Fischer), but that doesn’t change the fact that this 1969 performance is simply stupendous. Really, it is not often that one hears Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto flow with such spontaneous inevitability. How fortunate we are that it was recorded! Never mind the sound or the cuts. If Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto means anything to you at all, you must have this disc on your shelves. If you’re a Bolet fan, I assume you already do.

PS Some cover photos. ( )
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Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Liszt, FranzKomponistprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Rachmaninoff, Sergeicomposerhovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Bolet, Jorgepianomedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Indiana Symphony Orchestramedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Webb, Charlesconductormedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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