Over the past few days the MMD has published some unusually harsh and
strident criticism of me and my recently issued CD of Rachmaninoff's
Ampico rolls. As one might expect from what is essentially a thinly-
veiled attempt at character assassination, there has been no attempt
to check even simple facts.
For example, I stand accused of having used MIDI to prepare the
recordings for playing; in fact, MIDI did not play any part whatever
in the process. I am accused of speeding up the start and finish of
a certain music roll, leaving the middle section intact; that is
entirely untrue, as anyone with a CD player and a wristwatch can
However, the central thrust of the criticism is that I brought new
approaches to bear on an old problem. In particular, the writers seem
to regard it as sacrilegious that I would take into account the playing
time of Rachmaninoff's audio discs when making a transfer of his Ampico
Here I must plead guilty. I decided at the outset of the project
that I would learn everything I could about Rachmaninoff's Ampico
rolls, the method by which they were recorded, the instruments on
which they were played at the time, his audio recordings, his pianism,
and his philosophy of piano playing. It was my goal to bring new
insights to bear for the purpose of producing a musically and historic-
ally more valid transfer of Rachmaninoff's Ampico rolls than we had
before. My choices of tempo and acceleration, and explained in my note
to the MMD a few days, result from that thinking.
I did my level best to produce a superior recording, and one that is
true to Rachmaninoff's art. I have the word of trained listeners (one
of whom is a concert pianist) who heard Rachmaninoff in person that my
recording sounds very much as they remember his playing in public
performances of the 1930s.
I am sorry to learn that some people dislike my work. That is their
right, and of course they have other recordings of Rachmaninoff's
playing to choose from. It was never my intent to offend anyone.
There is simply no explaining taste.