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Some Reviews Found on the WEB -- Part 1 of 3

This extract from a review of Rachmaninoff 3rd Piano Concerto at http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/e/emi74520a.html

Unfairly, Leonard Pennario has been associated with the light classical repertoire, and the CD era has not been generous to him as a result; the implication is that he was not a "serious" pianist. A re-issue such as this Rachmaninov CD should give open-minded listeners reason to re-evaluate any prejudices that they may have held against Pennario. Again and again, he proves himself to be a fine musician, with a formidable technique and stylistic savvy. This Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, recorded in Los Angeles in 1957, is one of the best in the catalog, particularly if you see demonism as an essential aspect of this work. Even the more sentimental variations seem mocking. This performance burns with a brilliant yet cold flame. Leinsdorf, another musician who no longer receives the respect that he once commanded, is a decisive partner who does his share to stir this witches' brew. The "Rach 3," recorded two years later in London's Abbey Road Studios, also avoids any excessively Romantic lingering. The performers inflame the concerto with febrile strength; the composer's own recorded interpretation is much closer to this one than it is to several more celebrated recent recordings. This work is on the verge of becoming too familiar. Pennario and Susskind are like a splash of cold water in the face. These Capitol recordings have transferred fairly well to CD. The string tone is thin, but the sound has an attractive warmth overall. Even someone with a large collection of Rachmaninov will be happy to add these surprising performances to his or her collection.

Copyright © 2001, Raymond Tuttle. See:http://www.classical.net/copyright.html for full copyright restrictions.

Here is another extract from from: inkpot.com which reviewed the many recordings of the Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Concerto.

Leonard Pennario's Rachmaninov Second is warmly romantic in tone without distorting the flow of the music. Tempi are moderate for performances today, though slightly more spacious than in most recordings of this work B.C. (Before Cliburn). Like Cliburn , Pennario takes the time to make passages sing and highlight inner voices, but his playing does not lapse into the languor that was the Texan pianist's trademark.

Pennario's fingerwork and rhythms stay crisply articulated, but he knows when to pull back or slow down to bring out the beauty of a passage, as he does near the end of the first movement. Even when he underlines passages in this way, he generally does so subtly, never compromising the music for the sake of cheap effects. There is an emotional honesty in his playing not unlike the composer's own, which is shown to best advantage in the adagio. Nothing sentimental is allowed, no outright indulgences made, yet no emotion is slighted.

Vladimir Golschmann, a master at obtaining excellent results from less-than-first-rate ensembles, coaxes the strings to play with a silken elegance (even if they are stretched a little thin at times, as in the first movement climax). The brass is somewhat more troublesome at times, the woodwinds iffier - the clarinet solo at the beginning of the Adagio is especially thin-sounding, but the flutes near the end of that movement are perfectly fine. The sound picture, even with remastering, remains boxy and congested in climaxes, but is otherwise clear and perfectly listenable.