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MMD > Archives > March 2015 > 2015.03.14 > 03Prev  Next

Pianola Recordings by Sergei Rachmaninoff
By Bob Taylor

I guess it was a senior moment, but in my last post on this topic,
I should have given vectors to the site that hosts the recordings
of the 1983 Chicago concert that featured the Chickering concert
grand with orchestra.  Two compositions are included on that site in
Podcasts.  This site is so obscure, I forgot that I posted it in 2008.

I don't suggest that these are great recordings.  The squeaking
platform under the conductor's feet coupled with the need to remix
the audio and perhaps reposition the mics for the orchestra, means
this historic performance can't be fully appreciated as an archive.
In mixing the audio, the orchestra is too soft in an effort to make
the floor squeaks less noticeable.

Still, the event took place in modern times and was well received.
The piano featured has been seen by many MMDers who own the
Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments.  It is pictured on
page 290.  It now resides in a museum in Japan.

As I previously mentioned, the Rachmaninoff roll required no stopping
during the performance.  The other rolls did.  The Saint-Saens concerto
roll and the orchestra had a slight problem during the last few chords.
At the conclusion, the piano and orchestra alternate chords, and then
rejoin for the last two chords with unison timing.  That is slightly
off, but considering limited rehearsal time under the union contract,
we did fairly well.

If you want to hear those two performances, here is the web site that
hosts the Podcasts.  For the technically inclined, the Ampico was
adjusted to play at a minimum pressure of 7 inches and could go as
high as 75 inches.  The venue was an old movie theatre converted for
convention use which meant there was carpet everywhere.  It was part of
the Bismark Hotel. 

Bob Taylor

 [ At 
 [   "A roll never released was discovered among the Ampico master
 [   rolls.  It was made available so that the audience at the 1983
 [   Chicago AMICA convention could enjoy Rachmaninoff playing his 2nd
 [   piano Concerto, 2nd movement.  This was a world premiere of this
 [   recording.  Robin Pratt operates the Ampico Concert Grand."
 [ -- Robbie

(Message sent Sun 15 Mar 2015, 01:08:28 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Pianola, Rachmaninoff, Recordings, Sergei

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