Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff : Zenph Re-performance (2009)

Sony Masterworks and Zenph Studios announce the third release in an ongoing collaboration to breathe new life into legendary performances that have been marred by the poor recording quality of past times. Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff follows upon the success of Zenph Studios' productions of Glenn Gould's 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations (2007) and Art Tatum's Piano Starts Here (2008). This new compilation of re-performances is made from original masters that the colossal Russian composer and pianist recorded during his lifetime. Available on September 22nd, 2009, the release celebrates the 100th anniversary of Rachmaninoff's United States debut recital, which took place at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. The recording features Rachmaninoff playing five of his own compositions, including the Prelude in C-sharp Minor, the Etudes Tableaux in C- and E-flat Major, Op. 33, his piano transcription of the song "Daisies and Moment Musicaux in E-flat Minor, Op. 16. It also includes Rachmaninoff's renditions of Kreisler's Liebesleid and Liebesfreud, Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee, Mendelssohn's "Scherzo" from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Tchaikovsky's Lullaby, and the Prelude, Gavotte and Gigue from Bach's Violin Partita No. 3, BWV 1006.

Sony Masterworks has newly recorded—in crystaline stereo sound—performances originally recorded by Rachmaninoff between 1921 and 1942. The production team selected and customized an instrument that Rachmaninoff likely performed on during his lifetrime, a 1909 Steinway D concert grand piano. This CD release allows the listener to experience his performances without the hissing or popping that were once considered as much a part of those monaural 78s as the music itself. Zenph Studios eliminates the need for such compromise, returing Rachmaninoff's performances to their original luster, like a team of artists restoring the painting of an old master.

Rachmaninoff was well known for his exacting standards during his recording sessions; biographer Max Harrison relates that he used a hammer to smash the 78s for takes he deemed unsatisfactory. The team of Zenph Studios has pride in restoring the brilliance of these marvelous artifacts of musical genius.

All 13 tracks are presented twice on the CD, once in regular stereo, and again for headphones. For the second version, the "dummy head" was positioned where Rachmaninoff's head would have been during the recording process, so listeners hear the music as Rachmaninoff himself might have heard it when he was positioned at the piano. ”


•Krelsier/Rachmaninoff: Liebeslied (r. 1921)
•Rachmaninoff: Prelude in C-sharp Minor, Op. 3/2 (r. 1928
•Rimsky-Korsakov/Rachmaninoff: The Flight of the Bumblebee (r. 1929)
•Mendelssohn/Rachmaninoff: Scherzo from A Midsummer Night's Dream (r. 1935)
•Rachmaninoff: Etude Tableau in C Major, Op. 33/2 (r. 1940)
•Rachmaninoff: Etude Tableau in E-flat Major, Op. 33/7 (r. 1940)
•Rachmaninoff: MOment Musicaux, Op. 16/2 (r. 1940)
•Rachmaninoff: "Daisies," Op. 38/3 (r. 1940)
•Tchaikovsky/Rachmaninoff: Lullaby, Op. 16/1 (r. 1942)
•Bach/Rachmaninoff: Violin Partita No. 3: Prelude, Gavotte, and Gigue (r.1942)
•Kreisler/Rachmaninoff: Liebesfreud (r. 1942)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jimmy Raney - Solo (1976)

As the title suggests, this album is Jimmy Raney all by himself, the genuine article if you will, as Raney chose to accompany himself using overdubbing like Bill Evans did on his famous "Conversations with Myself" string of recordings. Raney said in an interview that he doesn't think of the guitar in guitar terms, but rather as a means of making music. Nowhere is this more evident than on this album where he lays his artistry bare to the listener and everything falls into place magnificently. My favorite Raney recording. ”


Jimmy Raney - guitar


1. The Fugue
2. New Signal
3. How Deep is the Ocean
4. The Way You Look Tonight
5. Wait Till You See Her
6. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
7. Blues Variations
8. Suzanne
9. The End of a Love Affair

#1-7 NYC 12/20/1976
#8-9 NYC 09/02/1975
FDC 5178 / ADE 664 / XANADU 140