RACHMANINOV Piano Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2 Leslie Howard. Melba Recordings

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Rachmaninov Piano Sonatas Nos 1 2 Leslie Howard Melba Recordings

RACHMANINOV

Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 28

No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 36

Leslie Howard (piano)

Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 28

1 Allegro moderato

2 Lento

3 Allegro molto

Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 36 (original 1913 version)

4 Allegro agitato

5 Non allegro—Lento

6 L’istesso tempo—Allegro molto

Three Piano Pieces

7 Andante ma non troppo

8 Oriental Sketch

9 Fragments

10 Ныне отпущаеши—Nunc dimittis, Op. 37 No. 5

[Arranged for piano solo from Vesper Mass – V – ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace’ (St Luke, 2:29)]

Australian pianist Leslie Howard presents the first recording of this coupling of the two Rachmaninov Piano Sonatas featuring the original 1913 version of the Sonata No. 2, regarded as unplayable by performers of the composer’s time.

Following the premier performance the devastated Rachmaninov radically simplified the work, but on this release the Sonata can be enjoyed in its original splendour, alongside the mighty Sonata No. 1 of 1907, inspired by a reading of Goethe’s Faust. The recording also includes four exquisite miniatures, among them three piano pieces composed by Rachmaninov as he was about to leave Russia forever. In his booklet notes, Leslie Howard notes: “He managed, over just two days in November 1917, to write an aching threnody, a defiant bit of true grit, and a little piece of almost unbearable nostalgia.” The last of these four miniatures is the piano solo version of the fifth movement of the Vespers, “unquestionably one of the great masterpieces of Russian liturgical music”.

Highly-renowned internationally, Leslie Howard is one of the most prodigious pianists working today. His passion for new musical experiences shines through in performances which combine a formidable technique with a wealth of scholarship illuminating rare and mainstream repertoire. Dr Howard is an authority on Russian music with important premiere performances of works by Anton Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, Glazunov and Stravinsky, but he is probably best-known for his 99-disc set of the complete piano music of Franz Liszt, the largest recording project ever undertaken by a solo artist.

Leslie Howard was born and raised in Melbourne, studying at Monash University and focussing on both musicology and performance. He was also educated in Italy and in London where he has lived since the 1970s. With more than 80 concertos in his repertoire, he has played with many of the world’s great orchestras, working with many distinguished conductors, and he maintains an exceptionally busy solo schedule on the international circuit.

Melba Recordings MR301127

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