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Leopold Stokowski - Serge Rachmaninoff and the Philadelphia
Orchestra - 1924
Serge Rachmaninoff shipboard in about 1922
1924 - Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto no 2 in c minor opus 18
In January, 1924 Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra joined Victor
artist Serge Rachmaninoff in what was the beginning of an historic collaboration.
After initially recording for Edison, Rachmaninoff had become an exclusive Victor artist in
19201. Somewhat like Stravinsky's collaboration with Columbia and Elgar
with the Gramophone Company, Rachmaninoff with Victor was one of the first extensively recorded
composer-artists in phonograph history. The collected issues of his recordings, all
originally on 78 RPM disks, spans 10 CDs in the Victor reissue. These recordings were restored
by Ward Marston, and then apparently further processed (to their detriment) by
Victor engineers. The
1929 Piano Concerto no 2 and Rhapsody on a theme of
Paganini reissue received a Grammy award, which went to Victor, but not
(as it should have in my opinion) to Ward Marston who made these legendary
recordings available for us to enjoy.
Stokowski, Rachmaninoff and the Philadelphia orchestra were to record the
first and only acoustic recording, by any artists, of a Rachmaninoff concerto.
This was Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto no 2 in c minor, opus
18, composed in 1900-1901. This recording was also Victor's first attempt to
capture record a concerto with symphony orchestra and soloist with the acoustic
December, 1923 and January, 1924 Recording Sessions
for the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no 2
The recording sessions for the concerto actually began on
Monday, December 31, 1923, with the concerto's second movement.
However, these sides were not approved by Rachmaninoff,
so recording began again the following Thursday, January 3, 1924, in Camden, when
successful recordings of the second and third movements were
As with other acoustic recordings made during this period, the orchestral
composition was greatly reduced, and instrumentation changed. At this
recording session, there were 7 first violins, 4 second violins, 3 violas,
2 cellos, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 4 French horns, 2 trumpets,
3 trombones, a baritone horn, a bass saxophone, and a contrabassoon3.
The bass saxophone would have replaced the string basses, since no basses
were used in the recording. The contra-bassoon would have replaced
timpani.  Rachmaninoff played a Steinway grand piano, but a smaller
model - a Steinway Model B which was raised on a platform to allow the
recording horn to have better access to the piano sound.
Also, of course, Rachmaninoff scored the concerto for a full
string complement, and with other percussion instruments besides the timpani -
bass drum and cymbals.
These recordings of the second and third movements were released by Victor in May, 1924
according to the Victor catalogue2. The second movement was issued on
the first three faces of two Victor double sided Red Seal disks 8064 and 8065,
matrix numbers C-29233-4, C-29234-3 and C-29235-4. The third movement was issued on the
final face of Red Seal disk 8065 and the two sides of 8066. The matrix numbers were
C-29236-3, C-29251-2, and C-29252-2.
Rachmaninoff in a Victor advertisement of 1921