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Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 – First work in our collection

Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 is one of the most enduringly popular pieces of classical music. It was composed at the start of the twentieth century and music from the concerto features prominently in the classic, 1940s film Brief Encounter and less extensively in a number of other movies. Listen out for it!

The work is virtuosic (it gives the pianist a chance to show off) but also highly lyrical. It lasts about 35 minutes and is witten in three movements: Moderato, Adagio sostenuto & Allegro scherzando.

The recommended version by the pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy performing with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kirill Kondrashin was recorded in the 1960s, but still sounds good and the performance has rarely been bettered since. You can purchase it as a download from Presto Classical or you might find it available as a second hand CD.

If you wish to buy a recently recorded version on CD then Alexandre Tharaud’s 2016 account with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Alexander Vedernikov will give much pleasure.

Stream this more recent choice on Spotify. Buy from Presto Classical.

View the other works in our collection.

Bargain Ashkenazy box from Decca

Our bargain choice for August has to be the box set of Vladimir Ashkenazy’s complete concerto recordings from Decca. At little more than £2 a CD this set is well worth purchasing.

The box, which contains 46 CDs, with original jackets, (and 2 DVDs), provides a great opportunity to reappraise Ashkenazy as a pianist following on from his 70th birthday on 6th July.

The set contains three Beethoven cycles, two Rachmaninov cycles, and his Prokofiev, Brahms, Bartók and Mozart cycles and various other works. This duplication of cycles prevented the award of 5 stars, as it may unfortunately dissuade some would be purchasers. However, there is much to be gained from comparing the different approaches to Beethoven and Rachmaninov and should not deter the serious collector.

Highlights of the set are the Grammy® award winning recordings of the Beethoven concertos with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Sir Georg Solti (1973) and the Rachmaninov cycle with Previn, where conductor and soloist are perfectly matched.

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To find out more about this set watch the video:

Welcome to iClassical

We are now publishing regular blogs about new CDs and concerts. Each week we will add one work to our Basic Collection – a great way to start a classical music collection or just to get into some great music. The first two works can be found here. Listen & enjoy!

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Another ‘Eroica’ Symphony

Klaus Tennstedt’s recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, ‘Eroica’, on the Profil Medien label, enters a competitive and crowded market and sadly does not quite stand out from the crowd. Perhaps the best moments are to be appreciated during the Funeral March, where Tennstedt draws from the members of the NDR Sinfonieorchester a real sense of pathos. This 1979 performance lacks the palpable sense of occasion to be had in his live recording of the same work on EMI with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (available on two disks at bargain price together with Symphonies 6 & 8).

On the plus side the performance of the Coriolan Overture has more to offer and rounds off the CD admirably. However, you might choose to spend your money elsewhere.

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