Rachmaninoff.org • Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR
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Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:34 pm
by StewH
Are Mr. Shelley's recordings as good as they are reviewed on Amazon.com? Just wondering...considering buying the complete set, especially the songs.

Re: Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 11:04 pm
by mikhailp
I haven't heard those recordings yet, but he is in fact an honorary member of our Society!

Re: Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 11:37 pm
by StewH
Thanks, Mikhail. I've seen a lot of reviews of other artists playing Rachmaninoff's preludes and etudes, but nothing much about Mr. Shelley's recordings.

There may be certain pianists, Richter or Horowitz, for example, who, on certain of the preludes or etudes, may give a definitive performance; however, overall, I still prefer Ashkenazy's complete set on London/Decca CDs. It will be interesting to compare Shelley's with Ashkenazy's. I have always felt, ever since I first bought Ashkenazy's LPs years ago, that he is overall a superior interpreter of Rachmaninoff, and he has the technique to back it up as well!

Re: Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 6:34 pm
by mikhailp
it seems that at this rate pretty soon we'll have inter-societal competitions for interpretation or rachmaninoff :)

Ashkenazy has a very, very original way of interpreting Rachmaninoff like no other pianist...
yet every time I listen to his recordings I'm always surprised because I thought he played this phrase faster or differnetly and it seems different every time.

Re: Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 9:36 pm
by Daniel
StewH wrote:Are Mr. Shelley's recordings as good as they are reviewed on Amazon.com? Just wondering...considering buying the complete set, especially the songs.


DO buy the complete set! Howard Shelley is such a fine and sensible pianist! I'll stop here, in order not to be accused of some form of hidden advertising...

Re: Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:46 pm
by RACHBOY
Please tell us your reasons Daniel!

Daniel wrote:
StewH wrote:Are Mr. Shelley's recordings as good as they are reviewed on Amazon.com? Just wondering...considering buying the complete set, especially the songs.


DO buy the complete set! Howard Shelley is such a fine and sensible pianist! I'll stop here, in order not to be accused of some form of hidden advertising...

Re: Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:27 am
by StewH
Daniel wrote:DO buy the complete set! Howard Shelley is such a fine and sensible pianist! I'll stop here, in order not to be accused of some form of hidden advertising...


In fact I have ordered, and just received, Mr. Shelley's recording of the complete songs and am most impressed with both the singing and the playing. Some of these, my dad and I sang together years ago, with him at the keyboard--my first introduction to Rachmaninoff's songs! :lol:

I believe I will take you up on your recommendation, Daniel, and buy the complete set, but, like Rachboy, would like your reasons/impressions overall of his recordings.

Re: Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:36 pm
by Daniel
I have two Howard Shelley sets: The Songs and the Complete Piano Music.
As for the songs, I see you got them and, as I do, you like what you're hearing. See also my other post in the thread you opened in Meet and Greet.
The other set is a brown box of 8 CDs. You get less known early pieces and other pieces without opus numbers. You get both versions of the 2nd Sonata (in my oppinion, the original version has a great musical value, while the revised one has a mainly documentary value... I mean the music itself, not the playing! Now I expect to be challenged about this one...). You get one of the very few recordings of the 1st Sonata - at the Members' Weekend in September a fellow mwember told me it was this particular recording which made the 1st Sonata make sense to him! You get ALL the Etudes Tableaux - even that originally withdrawn D minor jewel from op. 33. I understood you like no. 8 from op. 39 - then DO listen to Shelley!
Over time I found i'm far from being the only one who highly appreciates Howard Shelley's recordings of Rachmaninoff's music. And my advice to anyone considering buying these recordings is to drop their doubts and go for it!

Re: Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 3:21 am
by mikhailp
Is there anything particular you can tell us about Howard Shelly's style? What makes his recordings unique?

Re: Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 10:31 am
by Daniel
I'll try to be as concise as possible:

- Phrasing
- His use of dynamics (about this I have an "idee fixe" - the most difficult notes to play are those under p; after all, the instrument's original name is "pianoforte", just because of this: you can play both forte AND piano - AND pianissimo... I personally enjoy the quitest pianissimo more than the loudest fortissimo).
- The ability of making all the voices heard (this is a problem in Rachmaninoff's piano works)
- Precision
- Last but not least the courage and tremendous effort of learning all Rachmaninoff's piano works!

Of course there are specific pieces where I prefer other recordings. But here we're talking about the overall picture.

Re: Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:36 am
by Marianne
I like Howard Shelley's interpretation of Elegy and most of the piano works much better than Rachmaninoff's author interpretation.
It feels like Rachmaninoff-pianist underestimates the beauty of his own compositions.

But of course I know why I love Howard Shelley's interpretation of Elegy so much - when I was a child, I heard my mother play the Elegy in the way he does, not the way Rachmaninoff plays.
And I'm so gratefull to Howard Shelley that he made the complete record of SVR piano works.
I know that Ruth Laredo was the first pianist who did the same complete record of his piano works.

Re: Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 5:14 pm
by Marianne
As for the Elegie - Howard Shelley puts more emotions in it than SVR himself does... Howard Shelley is very emotional, but not over the sence of good taste. That's why I love his interpretations...

Re: Howard Shelley's recordings of SVR

Posted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:07 am
by StewH
I've made a point recently of listening to Shelley's playing the Etudes-Tableaux again. I've come to the conclusion that the Funeral March in the Op. 39 (No. 7 in c minor) is the masterpiece of the entire opus. I still like No. 8, but the more I listen to the No. 7, the more I am impressed by the composition, as well as Shelley's interpretation of it.