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  PentaTone Classics -
  PTC 5186 114
  Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 etc. - Haas/Inbal
  Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2, Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini

Werner Haas (piano)
Radio Symphony Orchestra Frankfurt
Eliahu Inbal (conductor)
Track listing:
  1-3. Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
4-7. Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini, Op. 43

Total time: 57:15
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Recorded at Bad Homburg, Germany - September 1974

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Related titles: 3

Reviews: 3

Review by akiralx May 13, 2005 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
The performances here are enjoyable if hardly revelatory. Haas is an aristocratic soloist and plays the C minor concerto with sovereign splendour throughout, although occasionally his handling of certain echt-Rachmaninovian moments of magic is a tad aloof.

I have slight reservations about whether Inbal and his Frankfurt Radio orchestra are truly within the idiom: they play well but turn to Ashkenazy's conducting of the Philharmonia for Helene Grimaud on Teldec, and one enters another world of powerful and deep Slavonic melancholy. That CD is my top digital recommendation and it can sit alongside other famous accounts like Richter's on DG.

The performance of the Paganini Rhapsody is better, with some imaginative playing from soloist and orchestra, particularly at the end of the work. Haas' interpretation is more ruminative than others, for example Earl Wild's fabulous 1965 version with Horenstein which clocks in several minutes quicker than this one.

Sonically these 1974 recordings have come up very well. The sound is very natural, with powerful bass - but detail is fine. The piano sound is clear, rich and full, and reasonably well integrated within the sound picture, almost too 'present' at times.

As far as multi-channel goes the soundstage is wide with no sonic 'gap' from the absence of a centre channel (the disc is encoded in 4.0) although the old snag of excess rear channel signal does emerge occasionally, most often at loud passages, e.g. at the climax of the first movement where the upper strings weirdly appear from behind the listener. I turned the rears down a few dB and that improved matters remarkably in the Rhapsody.

In SACD stereo the wide soundstage is only slightly reduced but some depth and detail is lost: the recording sounds clearly 'flatter' - but still pretty remarkable.

For a 30 year old recording this sounds very impressive in multichannel, and I will return to it - but do check out Grimaud on Teldec and Wild on Chandos.

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Review by beardawgs December 23, 2003 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Another winner from Pentatone RQR analogue series Ė we can only be grateful for the vision Philips had in the 70ies when all those brilliant recordings were made in quadraphonic. I still prefer these analogue DSD masters to some newly recorded stuff (both recording and performance-wise) from Pentatone, and there is more to come.

IMO Eliahu Inbal is one of the most underrated conductors around. Itís good to have so many old recordings of his again available and in this glorious sound as well. This one has definitely aged gracefully and survived the test of time. These two pieces are few of the most recorded repertoire and Iím sure there will be plenty more of Rachís 2nd piano concertos on the SACD market in no time, so it all comes down to personal preferences. This is highly charged reading, truly emotional and never overblown. Haas is a true virtuoso, but has expressive power most of todayís Kissins and Lang Langs are missing. The piano sound is captured in its full glory, and I have to say that I (just slightly) prefer this recording to Kovacevichís Beethoven second concerto, also RQR on Pentatone.

Paganini Rhapsody is even better than the concerto, wide dynamic range and fire of the fast and loud movements is matched with the customary spacious recording (in surround), with all the orchestral details present and focused where they should be. In the slow variations weíre greeted with Haasí gentile and refined piano tone and equally beautiful playing from Frankfurt orchestra. I still wouldnít part from Richterís classic recording of the concerto on DG, or Weissenberg/Karajan now on mid-price EMI, but this one is a solid runner up. As there is no 4.5 stars option for the performance, Iíll go for 4, just because we have Richter to compare, but in itís own turns this one ranks among the best Iíve heard.

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Review by thepilot August 29, 2004
Performance:   Sonics:
Splendid multichannel transfer from the original masters and the sound is simply glorious. The performances are very good, and only yield a little bit to the ones of the sacred monsters (Richter, Ormandy) that have recorded these truly great works. Bravo Pentatone. Keep up the good work.

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Works: 2  

Sergei Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
Sergei Rachmaninov - Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43