RACHMANINOFF:  Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30. DEBUSSY:  Serenade for the Doll.  SCARLATTI:  Capriccio in E, L. 375.  BIZET-HOROWITZ:  Variations on Themes from Carmen.  DOHNˇNYI:  Concert Etude in F Minor, Op. 28 No. 6. SCHUBERT-LISZT:  Liebesbotschaft.  LISZT:  Valse oubliČe No. 1. Paganini Etude No. 5 in E. LISZT-BUSONI:  Paganini Etude No. 2 in E Flat. CHOPIN:  Etude in F, Op. 10 No. 8.  HOROWITZ:  Danse excentrique
Vladimir Horowitz, pianist; London Symphony Orch/Albert Coates, cond.
NAXOS 8.110696 (B) (ADD) TT:  65:56
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BEETHOVEN:  Violin Sonata No. 8 in G, Op. 30 No. 3 (two versions).  SCHUBERT:  Violin Sonata No. 5 in A, D. 574.  GRIEG:  Violin Sonata No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 45.
Fritz Kreisler, violinist; Sergei Rachmaninoff, pianist
NAXOS 8.110968 (B) (ADD) TT:  72:50
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Most of these treasures have been issued before, but these new transfers are superior to previous issues - and at budget price! If you don't have Vladimir Horowitz's first recording of the Rachmaninoff Third, one of his big showpieces, this is an ideal way to acquire it. Recorded December 29/30, 1930 in Kingsway Hall, the concerto is given, as was customary in those days, with a number of cuts, using the less-elaborate first movement cadenza. Horowitz's intensity is demonic and he misses a few notes particularly in the last movement - but this is an incredibly exciting performance indeed. In his later recordings he seemed to relax more and ride the crest of the "big" moments more than in this early version recorded during the first years of his phenomenal career. I've never heard anyone comment that Horowitz simplifies the final cadenza in the last movement (page 77 in the Schirmer two-piano score) - he plays the chords as written only at the beginning of the descending passage - then switches to single notes which are easier to play. This cadenza begins 9:40 in track 14 in this transfer). This CD contains all of the pianist's recordings made up to the end of 1930 including three previously unissued: the Schubert-Liszt Liebesbotschaft (recorded Jan. 4, 1929) and Liszt's Paganini Etude No. 5 in E and Chopin's Etude in F, Op. 10 No. 8 (both recorded Mar. 4, 1930). It's surprising these weren't issued before - they were copied from vinyl test pressings that apparently weren't approved by the pianist - where have these been over the years?

The Rachmaninoff-Kreisler recordings have been phonographic gems ever since their first issue. Such perfection did not come easily; many takes were required for all three sonatas, 31 78rpm sides just for the Grieg. The Beethoven was the first recorded (Feb.-Mar. 1928), followed by the Grieg (Sept. 1928) and Schubert (Dec. 1928). These are stylish performances by two of the supreme musicians of the century - in Mark Obert-Thorn's superb transfers - and as a bonus we have a second performance of the Beethoven selected from the many alternate takes. Fascinating historic documents indeed - at budget price, a fraction of original issues.

R.E.B. (May 2003)