This fine release by Julia Severus contains two different classes of music. The piano transcriptions of songs by Rachmaninov and others were popular in their own time before being deemed insufficiently high-minded by academic tradition gatekeepers. They're pretty rare these days (17 of the pieces are recorded here for the first time), although Vladimir Ashkenazy used to play them periodically; at any rate, it's a pleasure to see them return to the stage and recordings. The transcriptions are by various composers, including Severus and Rachmaninov himself in a couple of cases. The piano parts are sort of the main attraction anyway, even in the original songs, and they work beautifully as transcriptions. Severus has a real way with these, making the piano seem to sing in all but words. Sample She Is as Lovely as Noon to hear the sostenuto Severus unobtrusively works into her pianistic style. Truly rare is the piano transcription of the orchestral Suite in D minor, which was made by the 17-year-old Rachmaninov and discovered in Moscow only in 2002. It's brash, although not especially virtuosic (the song transcriptions probably hold more challenges for the pianist), and it's an intriguing unknown slice of Rachmaninov's youth. The album is beautifully recorded at a Berlin studio. A highly recommended recording of music that is not really obscure, although it has been deemed so for a time.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Suite in D minor|