Valentia Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti & Rhapsody

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Lance
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Valentia Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti & Rhapsody

Post by Lance » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:11 pm

"Arguably the most ambitious piano-orchestra project a
pianist can undertake in a lifetime. The sheeer variety of
emotions and styles touched upon is encyclopedic."
—Valentina Lisitsa


Image
Decca B0018817 [478 8489], 2 CDs, 145:55, DDD

•Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 1 [26:13]
•Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18 [32:45]
•Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30 [39:28]
•Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Minor, Op. 40 [24:48]
•Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43 [22:41]

VALENTINA LISITSA, piano (Steinway)
London Symphony Orchestra
Michael Francis, conductor

I HAD THE PLEASURE of preparing Valentina Lisitsa's piano for three concerto concerts (with encores). I already knew her work from her now rare and defunct Audiophon recordings, so I knew what to expect. Not only was she an incredible virtuosa, but easily approachable, friendly, and someone fun with whom to share dinner! Since those days, the Lisitsa career has taken off exponentially. Her YouTube views have been in the millions and she now has an enormous following, including yours truly, of course. Her recordings, aside from the initial Audiophons, have appeared on Naxos, Deutsche Grammophon, her own label (all Chopin with DVD) and now, thankfully with an internationally known high-class label: Decca Records. I hope they (the Universal Group) hang on to her.

A while back, I promised myself that I would not be purchasing any more complete sets of Rachmaninoff piano concertos (I have quite enough of everybody's complete piano concertos, most specifically, Beethoven's), but when I saw the Lisitsa Rachmaninoff was coming forth, that promise was immediately dismissed. NOW, I probably won't need to acquire any more complete sets!

My copy arrived today, and I've listened to snippets of two of the concertos with great joy and delight. The story behind the making of these recordings is quite amazing in itself, as told by Lisitsa in the accompanying booklet. Lisitsa is one of the few pianists I know who seems to get everything right the first time around, on stage or on records ... she knows her music like the back of her hands. The sound and balance is ravishing, the playing is all that one could want from an artist, she uses a gorgeous Steinway piano (beautifully tuned and voiced to perfection). All on two CDs in a slim case.

There's a YouTube video wherein Lisitsa explains her performances in that she listened to Rachmaninoff's own [RCA Victor] recordings, which do not follow the published scores in some cases ... notes here and there, tempi, and where there's a fff in the score, Rachmaninoff plays it ppp thus making the music more dramatic, according to the pianist. Valentina Lisitsa decided to do what the composers says (plays) not what he asks you to do in the music! Who could argue with that philosophy? For Lisitsa it works, and it works supremely well.

Top five stars ***** for this issue, with, hopefully, many more releases to come forth on the Decca label. •
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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maestrob
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Re: Valentia Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti & Rhapsod

Post by maestrob » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:51 am

>.......and who, might I ask, is her conductor, the unknown (to me) Michael Francis? I'm leery of pet conductors....... :mrgreen:

Lance
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Re: Valentia Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti & Rhapsod

Post by Lance » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:14 pm

I'm not familiar with Michael Francis either, but I know that Lisitsa would only record this music with someone whom she had full trust in - and if you watch the Amazon YouTube clip they have for this set, you will be able to see him work with, breathe with her every pianistic wish. I was quite impressed. I have a feeling this will be a most highly successfull recording of these five works. When you think of all the truly "great" conductors who are on the scene today (Levine being amongst the top), there are not many choices today unless, of course, you get them for top $$$. The London Symphony Orchestra has quite a reputation and it was interesting to watch the violin section - not having had any rehearsals to speak of - seemingly knowing exactly how to perform with the pianist.

Brings me to another question. Who DO we consider the TOP conductors of today? Room for another thread, eh? :)
maestrob wrote:>.......and who, might I ask, is her conductor, the unknown (to me) Michael Francis? I'm leery of pet conductors....... :mrgreen:
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

mikealdren
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Re: Valentia Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti & Rhapsod

Post by mikealdren » Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:53 am

To quote Norman Lebrecht in his review:

This, belatedly, is her first orchestral recording. She paid for it herself, hiring the London Symphony Orchestra, Abbey Road and veteran producer Michael Fine, flying over for three sets of meticulously planned sessions. Unable to afford a big-brand conductor, she made a virtue of necessity and shared her interpretative ideas by video with LSO player-turned-conductor Michael Francis to avoid wasting a minute of expensive studio time.


Mike

maestrob
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Re: Valentia Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti & Rhapsod

Post by maestrob » Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:43 am

mikealdren wrote:To quote Norman Lebrecht in his review:

This, belatedly, is her first orchestral recording. She paid for it herself, hiring the London Symphony Orchestra, Abbey Road and veteran producer Michael Fine, flying over for three sets of meticulously planned sessions. Unable to afford a big-brand conductor, she made a virtue of necessity and shared her interpretative ideas by video with LSO player-turned-conductor Michael Francis to avoid wasting a minute of expensive studio time.


Mike
Thanks, Mike. I guess that clears that up. She's a first-rate musician, so I'll have no trouble buying the set for a listen.

gperkins151
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Re: Valentia Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti & Rhapsod

Post by gperkins151 » Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:29 am

maestrob wrote:
mikealdren wrote:To quote Norman Lebrecht in his review:

This, belatedly, is her first orchestral recording. She paid for it herself, hiring the London Symphony Orchestra, Abbey Road and veteran producer Michael Fine, flying over for three sets of meticulously planned sessions. Unable to afford a big-brand conductor, she made a virtue of necessity and shared her interpretative ideas by video with LSO player-turned-conductor Michael Francis to avoid wasting a minute of expensive studio time.


Mike
Thanks, Mike. I guess that clears that up. She's a first-rate musician, so I'll have no trouble buying the set for a listen.
Have you heard her Decca debut CD? It was so bad I barely made it through.
George

maestrob
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Re: Valentia Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti & Rhapsod

Post by maestrob » Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:27 am

gperkins151 wrote:
maestrob wrote:
mikealdren wrote:To quote Norman Lebrecht in his review:

This, belatedly, is her first orchestral recording. She paid for it herself, hiring the London Symphony Orchestra, Abbey Road and veteran producer Michael Fine, flying over for three sets of meticulously planned sessions. Unable to afford a big-brand conductor, she made a virtue of necessity and shared her interpretative ideas by video with LSO player-turned-conductor Michael Francis to avoid wasting a minute of expensive studio time.


Mike
Thanks, Mike. I guess that clears that up. She's a first-rate musician, so I'll have no trouble buying the set for a listen.
Have you heard her Decca debut CD? It was so bad I barely made it through.
Image

No, but I've heard this, and was very impressed. She's got the goods, all right.

Harold Tucker
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Re: Valentia Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti & Rhapsod

Post by Harold Tucker » Sat Mar 23, 2013 11:42 am

Francis is not a total unknown. I have seen him here in Cincinnati and he has made the round here in the states. This is what his agency has to say:

http://www.cami.com/?webid=2013

Guitarist
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Re: Valentia Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti & Rhapsod

Post by Guitarist » Sat Mar 23, 2013 12:00 pm

The cadenza in No.3 sounds pathetic to me...rushed and no sense of phrasing


The entire set got panned by this reviewer:

http://classicalcdreview.com/pick.html

(Not to pee in your pool or anything...) :D

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Re: Valentia Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti & Rhapsod

Post by Steinway » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:30 pm

Interesting how opinions of musicians can vary so much.

I find Lisista to be an incredibly talented artist and I've heard all of her recordings other than the Rachmaninoff set, which I will certainly add to my collection.

Her Appassionata interpretation is remarkably exciting and is hard to beat, certainly worth the price of admission if you don't know this very special pianist's work.

I thank Lance for the first introduction to Valentina.

Vive la difference. :)

Lance
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Re: Valentia Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti & Rhapsod

Post by Lance » Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:18 pm

Well, each is entitled to his/her own opinion. Personally, I think this critic has his ears on backwards. Most of the Russian or Ukrainian pianists are exceedingly well trained, and in Lisitsa's case, she has an enormous natural talent, which she has been careful to develop not only technically, but artistically and expressively. Granted, Lisitsa has much competition with the Rachmaninoff concerted works, but her stands up with the best of them from my point of view.
Guitarist wrote:The cadenza in No.3 sounds pathetic to me...rushed and no sense of phrasing

The entire set got panned by this reviewer:

http://classicalcdreview.com/pick.html

(Not to pee in your pool or anything...) :D
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

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