Midnight treat: Rachmaninov plays Schubert

Midnight treat: Rachmaninov plays Schubert


norman lebrecht

December 25, 2015

A perfect end to the festivities.

rachmaninov piano


  • Ann Goldberg says:

    This guy is almost as good as that other notable Russian music maker, one V. Putin.

    Thanks, NL.

  • Erwin Poelstra says:

    A lesson in how to play cantabile on a piano. Rachmaninoff was an absolutely wonderful pianist (and so was Rachmaninov)!

    • Herbert Pauls says:

      A cantabile like Cortot, double notes like Lhevinne, and a Beethoven Op 111 that was said to have left a profound impression on Schnabel no less. The greatest of them all.

  • Pedro says:

    Listen also to his Carnaval and Chopin’s second Sonata. Both are IMO the best recordings ever of both works.

  • Daniel F. says:

    Amazing thing about this is that in spite of all the rubato–some of it pretty extreme for current ears, there yet remains a very consistent pulse. You rarely hear anything this romanticized played “in time” and in such good taste This is an astounding performance! (Hope Milka gets to hear it.)

  • Michael P. Scott says:

    I’ve left word that as I lay dying I want the Horowitz version (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ohtikwa64xo) played via terrific earphones so it’ll be the last sounds I hear. That said, you’d hardly go wrong with Murray Perahia’s version (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1vlTbEPWvY) either.

    I often wondered just why Horowitz decided to add this to his recorded repertoire and now wonder, having just learned about the Rachmaninov, if he wasn’t just trying to emulate, compete with, better, his friend.

    It’s been a while since I listened to the VH recording, but recall that over good earphones one could hear him exhale a sigh (contentment?) as the last note faded away.

    They’re all great arrangements — and it’s Schubert, too!

  • harold braun says:

    Peerless.No one alive comes near to that!

  • Kelvin Grout says:

    I cannot thank you enough for this recording. I am currently putting the finishing touches to my new lecture/workshop and this depicts so precisely what I am attempting to show young pianists (musicians generally), we have moved away from the freedom of the ‘romantic’ movement and put everything into rigid little boxes. It’s not true that no one alive comes near to this, but they are few and far between and often dismissed as sentimental fools. I will be using this as a wonderful example!

    • norman lebrecht says:

      My pleasure!

    • milka says:

      As lovely as this may sound to many ,it is a great mistake to imagine that this is what
      Schubert imagined or heard in his mind …the instruments of his day sounded nothing like
      this piano, the sensibilities of the age (1800) are not ours …he may have
      liked this rendition or may have abhorred it . It is an interpretation and a piano 100 years after the fact and to make the playing of a Rachmaninov or a Paderewski etc. the
      standard to go by is a mistake . I heard a Chopin recital played on one of his pianos and it
      was a revelation, I suspect it would give Chopin prize winners collective heart failure to
      hear what one can only imagine the audience of his day heard at his concerts .

      • Daniel F. says:

        Your points are not exactly hard news. Of COURSE Schubert’s piano was different, and we have no idea what he would have thought of SR’s playing, which is something like a beautiful “translation” from one era to another. Jussi Bjorling sang it “all wrong” too, but it was beautiful. It must be difficult not to be able to enjoy the beautiful.

  • Susan Tomkins says:

    Absolutely beautiful. Loved every note! I have an LP with Gigli singing this which I never got tired of hearing. This arrangement captures the same magic for me.
    Thank you so much Norman.