I received the new CD on which Jeffrey Reid Baker plays the Rachmaninoff
3rd Concerto and the Piano & Cello Sonata in 4-hand arrangements. The
Concerto reduction is by Rachmaninoff and slightly "enhanced" (my word)
by Baker. In both pieces, he plays with himself, as it were, evidently
recording 2 hands and then overdubbing with 2 more hands. This is, of
course, assuming that he is only endowed with 2 hands like most of the
rest of us.
He also includes an "Interlude for S. R." (guess who) of his own devising.
First of all, let me say that I am glad I bought this disk. Anything with
these major works is worth a hearing. The CD was also favorably reviewed
in Fanfare, so I was definitely hooked. I was also unimpressed on first
and second hearing. It would be interesting to hear how Baker would play
the Concerto with an orchestra. I keep getting the feeling that he is
playing rather staccato-like, but maybe this is due to room acoustics and
the fact that the piano doesn't sustain as well as an orchestra might in
Baker follows Rachmaninoff's 2 piano score for most of the Concerto -
letting one take be the pianist's part and the other, the orchestra's.
He seems to have redistributed the forces in the Sonata a bit more evenly
between (among?) the hands. This is clearly called "Baker's arrangement".
I listened to the CD again today with headphones, and it was much
more interesting. There was more of a real dialog between the twopairs
of hands. However, the sound was a bit tubby (and I have good new
headphones). In places the sound is more like a fortepiano. The biggest
fault I can find is that everything is played quite metronomically. Maybe
this is because a very strict timing is needed when half of the piece is to
be played along with later. I think thata better solution would be to have
2 separate pianists. I wonder how all those recordings of the Saint-Saens
3rd Symphonie are done with the organ in one venue and the orchestra in
another. I suppose Baker is saving money by playing both parts himself,
since this seems to be a self-produced CD.
Has anyone else heard this disk, and care to comment??
Tallahassee, FL - USA
ALKAN Web Page: http://www.nettally.com/joelhill/alkan