Few pianists can rival Vladimir Ashkenazy for his wide-ranging repertoire, and he is second to none in the depth of his coverage of the music of Sergey Rachmaninov, which he has served up many times over the five decades he has recorded for Decca. This 2013 album completes his recordings of Rachmaninov's oeuvre, and as the culminating collection of the solo piano music, it presents minor pieces that rarely have been recorded and, in some cases, have been hidden from view since the composer's lifetime. The Morceaux de salon, Op. 10, are the most frequently played, but the majority of pieces here date from Rachmaninov's youth, or were sketches he never published. While the Piano Piece in A flat major would be unknown but for Ashkenazy's acuity in copying it down from the sketch he found in the Library of Congress, and the Song without Words being retrieved from a facsimile in Oskar von Reisemann's biography, the remaining juvenilia and student works have been published. Even Ashkenazy's two premiere recordings of Noch' pechal'na, Op. 26/12, and the Nunc dimittis from the All-Night Vigil are merely the pianist's own arrangements, so the sense of discovery is limited. All the same, Ashkenazy performs a service to Rachmaninov's memory by rescuing these minor gems, and fans will be interested to hear them, if not necessarily bowled over by them.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Pieces (3) for piano, TN ii/19|
|Morceaux de salon, op. 10|
|Four Pieces (originally numbered op. 1)|
|All-Night Vigil, op. 37|