Sergei Rachmaninoff recordings

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Rachmaninoff in front of a giant Redwood tree, California, 1919

Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff (Russian: Серге́й Васи́льевич Рахма́нинов;) Russian pronunciation: [sʲɪrˈɡʲej rɐxˈmanʲɪnəf]; 1 April [O.S. 20 March] 1873 – 28 March 1943)[1] was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor.[2] Rachmaninoff is widely considered as one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music.

Recordings[edit]

Phonograph[edit]

Many of Rachmaninoff's recordings are acknowledged classics. Rachmaninoff first recorded in 1919,[3] for Edison Records' unusual "Diamond Discs", as they claimed the best audio fidelity in recording the piano at the time. Thomas Edison, who was quite deaf,[4] did not care for Rachmaninoff's playing and referred to him as a "pounder" at their initial meeting.[5] However, the staff at Edison's New York recording studio (led by company pianist Robert Gayler) asked Edison to reconsider his dismissive position, resulting in a limited contract for ten released sides. The Edison company took some care with its piano recordings but used an unusual make, the Lauter, made in Newark; Rachmaninoff recorded on a Lauter concert grand, one of the few the company made. Rachmaninoff believed his own performances to be variable in quality and requested that he be allowed to approve any recordings for commercial release. Edison agreed but still issued multiple takes, a very unusual practice which was routine at Edison, where strict company policy demanded three good takes of each selection to mitigate the effects of production wear and provide redundancy in case of damage to a metal master; in practice, this meant to the staff that takes passed for issue were interchangeable, but it was also very wearing on artists who often had to record an item several times over to produce each of those three problem-free takes. Edison's staff and Rachmaninoff were pleased with the released discs and wanted to record more, but Thomas Edison refused to engage the pianist for further work, saying the ten sides were sufficient for label prestige purposes.

Rachmaninoff (1921 Victor advertisement)

Rachmaninoff signed a contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company (later RCA Victor) in 1920. The company was pleased to comply with Rachmaninoff's restrictions, and proudly advertised him as one of their prominent recording artists. His recordings for Victor continued until 1942, when the American Federation of Musicians imposed a recording ban on their members.

Particularly renowned are his renditions of Schumann's Carnaval and Chopin's Funeral March Sonata, along with many shorter pieces. He recorded all four of his piano concertos with the Philadelphia Orchestra, including two versions of the second concerto with Leopold Stokowski conducting (an acoustical recording in 1924 and an electrical remake in 1929), and the world premiere recording of the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, soon after the first performance (1934) with the Philadelphians under Stokowski. The first, third, and fourth concertos were recorded with Eugene Ormandy in 1939-41. Rachmaninoff also made three recordings conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in his own Third Symphony, his symphonic poem Isle of the Dead, and his orchestration of Vocalise. All of these recordings were reissued in a 10-CD set "Sergei Rachmaninoff The Complete Recordings" in RCA Victor Gold Seal 09026-61265-2, along with subsequent reissues.

This listing below includes only recordings in which Rachmaninoff himself was a participant, as either pianist or conductor. Recordings of Rachmaninoff’s music made by other performers are not included.

Composer Title of Work, other performers Recording date(s) Record label
Johann Sebastian Bach Sarabande, from Klavier Partita No. 4 in D major, BWV 828 December 16, 1925 RCA
Johann Sebastian Bach Prelude, Gavotte, and Gigue, from Violin Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006 February 26 & 27, 1942 RCA
Ludwig van Beethoven Violin Sonata No. 8 in G major, Op. 30, No. 3
  • Fritz Kreisler, violin
March 22, 1928 RCA
Ludwig van Beethoven 32 Variations in C minor, WoO. 80 April 13 & May 14, 1925 RCA
Ludwig van Beethoven Turkish March, from The Ruins of Athens, Op. 113 December 14, 1925 RCA
Georges Bizet Minuet, from “L’arlésienne” Suite, No. 1 February 24, 1922 RCA
Alexander Borodin Scherzo in A-flat major December 23, 1935 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Ballade in A-flat major, Op. 47 April 13, 1925 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Mazurka in C-sharp minor, Op. 63, No. 3 December 27, 1923 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Mazurka in A minor, Op. 68, No. 2 December 23, 1935 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 9, No. 2 April 5, 1927 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Nocturne in F-sharp major, Op. 15, No. 2 December 27, 1923 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Return Home, and The Maiden’s Wish, from Polish Songs February 27, 1942 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Scherzo in C-sharp minor, Op. 39 March 28, 1924 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Sonata in B-flat minor, Op. 35 February 18, 1930 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Waltz in E-flat major, Op. 18 “Grand Valse Brillante” January 21, 1921 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Waltz in F major, Op. 34, No. 3 “Valse Brillante” November 4, 1920 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Waltz in A-flat major, Op. 42 April 18, 1919 Edison
Frédéric Chopin Waltz in D-flat major, Op. 64, No. 1 “Minute” April 2, 1921 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Waltz in D-flat major, Op. 64, No. 1 “Minute” April 5, 1923 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Waltz in C-sharp minor, Op. 64, No. 2 April 5, 1927 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Waltz in A-flat major, Op. 64, No. 3 April 19, 1919 Edison
Frédéric Chopin Waltz in A-flat major, Op. 64, No. 3 April 5, 1927 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Waltz in B minor, Op. 69, No. 2 October 24, 1923 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Waltz in G-flat major, Op. 70, No. 1 April 2, 1921 RCA
Frédéric Chopin Waltz in E minor, Op. posth February 18, 1930 RCA
Louis-Claude Daquin Le coucou October 21, 1920 RCA
Claude Debussy Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum, and Golliwog’s Cakewalk, from Children’s Corner Suite January 21, 1921 RCA
Ernst von Dohnányi Etude in F major, Op. 28, No. 2 October 25, 1921 RCA
Christoph Willibald Gluck Melodie, from Orfeo ed Euridice May 14, 1925 RCA
Edvard Grieg Waltz, and Elfin Dance, from Lyric Pieces, Op. 12 October 12, 1921 RCA
Edvard Grieg Violin Sonata in C minor, Op. 45
  • Fritz Kreisler, violin
September 14 & 15, 1928 RCA
George Frideric Handel Air & Variations (“Harmonious Blacksmith”) January 3, 1936 RCA
Adolf Henselt Si oiseau j’étais (Etude in F-sharp major, Op. 2, No. 6) December 27, 1923 RCA
Fritz Kreisler Liebesfreud (arr. Rachmaninoff) December 29, 1925 RCA
Fritz Kreisler Liebesfreud (arr. Rachmaninoff) February 26, 1942 RCA
Fritz Kreisler Liebeslied (arr. Rachmaninoff) October 25, 1921 RCA
Franz Liszt Gnomenreigen (Concert Etude No. 2) December 16, 1925 RCA
Franz Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 (cadenza: Rachmaninoff) April 22, 1919 Edison
Franz Liszt Polonaise No. 2 in E major April 13, 1925 RCA
Felix Mendelssohn Etude in F major, Op. 104b, No. 2 April 5, 1927 RCA
Felix Mendelssohn Etude in A minor, Op. 104b, No. 3 April 5, 1927 RCA
Felix Mendelssohn Spinning Song, from Songs Without Words, Op. 67 November 4, 1920 RCA
Felix Mendelssohn Spinning Song, from Songs Without Words, Op. 67 April 25, 1928 RCA
Felix Mendelssohn Scherzo, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (arr. Rachmaninoff December 23, 1935 RCA
Moritz Moszkowski La jongleuse, Op. 52, No. 4 March 6, 1923 RCA
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Theme and Variations, from Sonata in A major, K. 331 April 18, 1919 Edison
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Rondo alla turca, from Sonata in A major, K. 331 May 14, 1925 RCA
Modest Mussorgsky Hopak, from Sorochintsky Fair (arr. Rachmaninoff) April 13, 1925 RCA
Ignacy Jan Paderewski Minuet in G major, Op. 14, No. 1 April 5, 1927 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Barcarolle in G minor, Op. 10, No. 3 April 23, 1919 Edison
Sergei Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 1
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
  • Eugene Ormandy, conductor
December 4, 1939 & February 24, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
  • Leopold Stokowski, conductor
January 3 & December 22, 1924 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
  • Leopold Stokowski, conducor
April 10 & 13, 1929 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
  • Eugene Ormandy, conductor
December 4, 1939 & February 24, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
  • Eugene Ormandy, conductor
December 20, 1941 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Etude-tableau in C major, Op. 33, No. 2 March 18, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Etude-tableau in E-flat major, Op. 33, No. 7 March 18, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Etude-tableau in A minor, Op. 39, No. 6 December 16, 1925 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Humoresque in G major, Op. 10, No. 5 (revised version) April 9, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Isle of the Dead, Op. 29
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
April 2, 1929 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Melodie in E major, Op. 3, No. 3 (revised version) April 9, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Moment Musical in E-flat minor, Op. 16, No. 2 March 18, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Oriental Sketch March 18, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Polichinelle in F-sharp minor, Op. 3, No. 4 March 6, 1923 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Polka de W.R. April 23, 1919 Edison
Sergei Rachmaninoff Polka de W.R. October 12, 1921 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Polka de W.R. April 4, 1928 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Polka italienne
  • Natalie Rachmaninoff, second piano
1938 Private recording
Sergei Rachmaninoff Prelude in C-sharp minor, Op. 3, No. 2 April 23, 1919 Edison
Sergei Rachmaninoff Prelude in C-sharp minor, Op. 3, No. 2 October 14, 1921 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Prelude in C-sharp minor, Op. 3, No. 2 April 4, 1928 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Prelude in G minor, Op. 23, No. 5 May 17, 1920 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Prelude in G-flat major, Op. 23, No. 10 March 18, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Prelude in E major, Op. 32, No. 3 March 18, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Prelude in G major, Op. 32, No. 5 May 3, 1920 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Prelude in F minor, Op. 32, No. 6 March 18, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Prelude in F major, Op. 32, No. 7 March 18, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Prelude in G-sharp minor, Op. 32, No. 12 January 21, 1921 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
  • Leopold Stokowski, conductor
December 24, 1934 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Serenade in B-flat, Op. 3, No. 5 (revised version) November 4, 1922 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Serenade in B-flat, Op. 3, No. 5 (revised version) January 3, 1936 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Daisies, Op. 38, No. 3 March 18, 1940 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Lilacs, Op. 21, No. 5 December 27, 1923 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Lilacs, Op. 21, No. 5 February 26, 1942 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
April 20, 1929 RCA
Sergei Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
December 11, 1939 RCA
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Flight of the Bumblebee, from Tsar Sultan (arr. Rachmaninoff) April 16, 1929 RCA
Camille Saint-Saëns The Swan, from Carnival of the Animals December 30, 1924 RCA
Domenico Scarlatti Pastorale (after Sonata in D minor, L. 413) (arr. Tausig) April 19, 1919 Edison
Franz Schubert Impromptu in A-flat major, D. 899, No. 4 December 29, 1925 RCA
Franz Schubert Violin Sonata in A major, D. 574
  • Fritz Kreisler, violin
December 20 & 21, 1928 RCA
Franz Schubert Serenade, from Shwanengesang, D. 957 (arr. Liszt) February 27, 1942 RCA
Franz Schubert Das Wandern, from Die schöne Müllerin, D, 795 (arr. Liszt) April 14, 1925 RCA
Franz Schubert Wohin?, from Die schöne Müllerin, D, 795 (arr. Rachmaninoff) December 29, 1925 RCA
Robert Schumann Carnaval, Op. 9 April 9, 10, & 12, 1929 RCA
Robert Schumann Der Kontrabandiste, from Spanisches Liederspiel, Op. 74 February 27, 1942 RCA
Alexander Scriabin Prelude in F-sharp minor, Op. 11, No. 8 April 16, 1929 RCA
Johann Strauss II One Lives But Once (arr. Tausig) April 5, 1927 RCA
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Humoresque in G major, Op. 10, No. 2 December 27, 1923 RCA
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Troika (November), from The Seasons, Op. 37b May 3, 1920 RCA
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Troika (November), from The Seasons, Op. 37b April 11, 1928 RCA
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Waltz in A-flat major, Op. 40, No. 8 April 5, 1923 RCA
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Lullaby, Op. 16, No. 1 February 26, 1942 RCA
Traditional Powder and Paint February 22, 1926 RCA

Piano rolls[edit]

Rachmaninoff also performed several works on piano rolls. Several manufacturers, in particular the Aeolian Company, published his compositions on perforated music rolls from about 1900 onwards.[6] His sister-in-law, Sofia Satina, remembered him at the family estate at Ivanovka, pedalling gleefully through a set of rolls of his Second Piano Concerto, apparently acquired from a German source,[7] most probably the Aeolian Company's Berlin subsidiary, the Choralion Company. Aeolian in London created a set of three rolls of this concerto in 1909, which remained in the catalogues of its various successors until the late 1970s.[8] From 1919 he made 35 piano rolls (12 of which were his own compositions),[9] for the American Piano Company (Ampico)'s reproducing piano. According to the Ampico publicity department, he initially disbelieved that a roll of punched paper could provide an accurate record, so he was invited to listen to a proof copy of his first recording. After the performance, he was quoted as saying "Gentlemen—I, Sergei Rachmaninoff, have just heard myself play!" For demonstration purposes, he recorded the solo part of his Second Piano Concerto for Ampico, though only the second movement was used publicly and has survived. He continued to make roll recordings until around 1929, though his last roll, the Chopin Scherzo in B-flat minor, was not published until October 1933.[10]

Composer Title of Work Recording date(s) Roll company
Tchaikovsky Troika (November), from The Seasons, Op. 37b March 17, 1919 Ampico
John Stafford Smith The Star Spangled Banner (arr. Rachmaninoff) March 17, 1919 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Polichinelle, Op. 3, No. 4 March 17, 1919 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Prelude in C-sharp minor, Op. 3, No 2 March 17, 1919 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Melodie in E major, Op. 3, No 3 (original version) March 17, 1919 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Humoresque in G major, Op 10, No. 5 (original version) March 17, 1919 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Barcarolle in G minor, Op. 10, No. 3 March 17, 1919 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Prelude in G minor, Op. 23, No. 5 March 17, 1919 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Polka de W.R. March 17, 1919 Ampico
Mendelssohn Spinning Song, Op. 67, No. 4 March 5, 1921 Ampico
Chopin Waltz in E-flat major, Op. 18 March 5, 1921 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableau in A minor, Op. 39, No. 6 March 5, 1921 Ampico
Mussorgsky Hopak, from Sorochintsky Fair (arr. Rachmaninoff) March 5, 1921 Ampico
Kreisler Liebeslied (arr. Rachmaninoff) April 6, 1922 Ampico
Bizet Minuet, from L’Arlesienne Suite (arr. Rachmaninoff) April 6, 1922 Ampico
Tchaikovsky Waltz, Op. 40, No. 8 April 13, 1923 Ampico
Chopin Waltz in F major, Op. 34, No. 3 April 13, 1923 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Lilacs, Op. 21, No. 6 April 13, 1923 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Serenade, Op. 3, No. 5 (revised version) April 13, 1923 Ampico
Henselt Etude in F-sharp major, Op. 2, No. 6 November 13, 1923 Ampico
Chopin The Maiden’s Wish (arr. Liszt) November 13, 1923 Ampico
Gluck Melodie, from Orfeo and Euridice (arr. Sgambati) January 14, 1925 Ampico
Schubert Das Wandern (arr. Liszt) January 14, 1925 Ampico
J. S. Bach Sarabande, from Partita No. 4, BWV 828 December 22, 1925 Ampico
Schubert Wohin? (arr. Rachmaninoff) December 22, 1925 Ampico
Kreisler Liebesfreud (arr. Rachmaninoff) December 22, 1925 Ampico
Chopin Nocturne in F- major, Op. 15, No. 1 February 1, 1927 Ampico
Paderewski Minuet in G major, Op. 14 February 1, 1927 Ampico
Beethoven Turkish March, from The Ruins of Athens (arr. Anton Rubinstein) February 1, 1927 Ampico
Schubert Impromptu in A-flat major, D. 899, No. 4 March 27, 1928 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableau in B minor, Op. 39, No, 4 March 27, 1928 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Elegie in E-flat minor, Op. 3, No. 1 April 4, 1928 Ampico
Anton Rubinstein Barcarolle, Op. 93, No. 7 February 1, 1929 Ampico
Chopin Scherzo in B-flat minor, Op. 31 February 1, 1929 Ampico
Rimsky-Korsakov Flight of the Bumble Bee, from The Tsar Sultan (arr. Rachmaninoff) February 1, 1929 Ampico
Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances 21 December 1940 Private (Marston Records)

References[edit]

  1. ^ See Sergei Rachmaninoff, by Sergei Bertensson and Jay Leyda, New York University Press, 1956, p. 1.
  2. ^ Geoffrey Norris. "Rachmaninoff, Serge. " In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online Retrieved 11 November 2009.
  3. ^ Online listing of Rachmaninoff's recording sessions (based on Martyn 1990, pp. 453–497). Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Thomas Edison". When Edison was 14, he contracted scarlet fever. The effect of the fever, as well as a blow to the head by an angry train conductor, caused Edison to become completely deaf in his left ear, and 80-percent deaf in the other.
  5. ^ Ziemann, George (October 2003), Thomas Edison, Intellectual Property and the Recording Industry
  6. ^ Music for the Pianola and the Aeriol Piano, The Aeolian Company, New York, July 1901.
  7. ^ Harrison 2006, p.223
  8. ^ Catalogue of Music for the Pianola and Pianola-Piano, The Orchestrelle Company, London, June 1910, and many successive catalogues.
  9. ^ Elaine Obenchain, The Complete Catalog of Ampico Reproducing Piano Rolls, 1977, William H. Edgerton, Darien CT ISBN 0-9601172-1-0
  10. ^ Obenchain 1987.

Additional references used in creating tables:

Booklet from Sergei Rachmaninoff Complete Recordings, RCA/BMG 09026-61265-2