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Rachmaninov: Complete Preludes – 80th Birthday Tribute to Peter Katin

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Catalogue No: SOMMCD 0110
Release Date: 07/01/2011
Number of Discs: 1
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Pianist Peter Katin celebrated his 80th birthday in 2011 and we at SOMM joined his many admirers and colleagues in wishing him many happy returns. As a token of our admiration and a tribute to his art, we have therefore newly re-mastered and re-released Katin’s fabulous recording  of the complete Rachmaninov Preludes which he first recorded for Unicorn in 1971 (released in 1972). The Preludes re-appeared briefly on the now defunct Olympia Compact Disc label, followed by one more brief outing on Pickwick before that label also disappeared.

His playing is magisterial: one couldn’t ask for more insight, intensity, virtuosity in this prodigious repertoire. … the music redefines totally convincingly what a “prelude” might be: an auspicious fragment of the Beyond. Katin fixes them superbly in the here and now.” Paul Driver, Sunday Times

Peter Katin remains one of my favourite pianists, and his recording of the Rachmaninov Preludes shows him at his absolute best. Katin’s sound-world is utterly his own, and his variety of sonority is put to tremendous poetic effect in these readings, where the glittering edge of his cantabile is matched by playing of ardent commitment in the more vigorous Preludes.” International Piano (printed on the Preludes’ release on Olympia).

In our CD booklet we have included Peter Katin’s original liner notes in which he gives a detailed description of each prelude. These are preceded by a foreword by Christopher Morley who reminds us that “… a few of the Preludes have become popular repertoire pieces. Many of them, however, remain scarcely known to the listening public, and it is thanks to the devoted efforts of pianists as thoughtful as Peter Katin, renowned for his Chopin interpretations and equally at home with Rachmaninov, that we now have the chance to experience the many-sided world of the entire gamut of these miniatures, “small tone-poems” as Geoffrey Norris has described them.”

As a further tribute to Katin we have included “PETER KATIN at 80”,  an interview of Katin by music critic and reviewer Colin Anderson, which first appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of Classical Recordings Quarterly and which we have printed with Editor Alan Sanders’ permission. In this, Katin talks to Colin with characteristic, unfussy simplicity.

Born in London, Peter Katin’s musical talent was evident at the age of four, and he was admitted to the senior department of the Royal Academy of Music when he was twelve, four years before the official age of entry. The success of his Wigmore Hall début in 1948 started him on a career that has taken him throughout the world (he was the first British artist to give a post-war solo tour of the then USSR), and in those earlier years he was greatly influenced by his meetings with Clifford Curzon, Claudio Arrau and Myra Hess, who gave him much advice for which he has always been deeply grateful. His early successes seemed centred round the classical composers; he was greatly in demand for Mozart concerto performances in particular and he also developed a rare talent for chamber music. However, a performance of Rachmaninov’s D minor Concerto in 1953 changed his image almost overnight, and hailed as a virtuoso of the first order he was constantly in demand for the most taxing of romantic concertos until the late sixties, but by that time he decided that he needed to make a more in-depth study of the composers who had almost escaped him when he was immersed in the big major works.

The first composer in this specialised study was Chopin, and since that time he has become regarded as one of the finest interpreters of this composer’s music.(Peter Katin plays Chopin: available on SOMMCD 085).He was sufficiently encouraged to make similar studies of Schubert, Schumann, Debussy and Liszt, and as a result has given a number of one-composer recitals. His repertoire now is very flexible and he is happy about performing concertos by Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms in one week, while keeping a very wide variety of styles in his recital programmes.

In December 1997 he visited New York where he gave a recital of works by Schumann, Schubert, Debussy and Chopin, and he has since enjoyed more years of adventurous programming, which included an anniversary recital at Wigmore Hall on 13 December 1998, exactly fifty years from the date of his début.

His constant encouragement of the preserving of individuality in young artists has been one factor in the conferral during 1994 of an Honorary Doctorate by De Montfort University, and as a teacher, he has had highly successful years at the Royal Academy of Music, The University of Western Ontario, the Royal College of Music and Thames Valley University.

He has now almost forty recordings, more than at any other time in his career, which have been received with critical superlatives. These include the complete Chopin Nocturnes and Impromptus, Grieg Lyric Pieces, Chopin Waltzes and Polonaises and the Rachmaninov Preludes.

On This Recording

  1. Morceaux de fantaisie: Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3: No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor
  2. 10 Preludes: No. 1 in F-Sharp Minor: Largo
  3. 10 Preludes: No. 2 in B-Flat Major: Maestoso
  4. 10 Preludes: No. 3 in D Minor: Tempo di minuetto
  5. 10 Preludes: No. 4 in D Major: Andante cantabile
  6. 10 Preludes: No. 5 in G Minor: Alla marcia
  7. 10 Preludes: No. 6 in E-Flat Major: Andante
  8. 10 Preludes: No. 7 in C Minor: Allegro
  9. 10 Preludes: No. 8 in A-Flat Major: Allegro vivace
  10. 10 Preludes: No. 9 in E-Flat Minor: Presto
  11. 10 Preludes: No. 10 in G-Flat Major: Largo
  12. 13 Preludes: No. 1 in C Major: Allegro vivace
  13. 13 Preludes: No. 2 in B-Flat Minor: Allegretto
  14. 13 Preludes: No. 3 in E Major: Allegro vivace
  15. 13 Preludes: No. 4 in E Minor: Allegro con brio
  16. 13 Preludes: No. 5 in G Major: Moderato
  17. 13 Preludes: No. 6 in F Minor: Allegro appassionato
  18. 13 Preludes: No. 7 in F Major: Moderato
  19. 13 Preludes: No. 8 in A Minor: Vivo
  20. 13 Preludes: No. 9 in A Major: Allegro moderato
  21. 13 Preludes: No. 10 in B Minor: Lento
  22. 13 Preludes: No. 11 in B Major: Allegretto
  23. 13 Preludes: No. 12 in G-Sharp Minor: Allegro
  24. 13 Preludes: No. 13 in D-Flat Major: Grave – Allegro