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Joined: May 2001
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Having just read a sensationally good review of her recording of this set of etudes in International Piano magazine, I decided to listen to them and was frankly overwhelmed.


There are, of course, many great recordings of these pieces by many very great pianists, but this is certainly one of favorites. If one has heard excellent playing of a piece many times, I think it takes very special playing for one to listen transfixed, but that is what this recording did for me. So I am curious about other member's opinion of this recording.

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I find it extraordinary.
I've loved her playing since hearing her in the Cliburn and got 2nd prize (IMO should have been 1st), and made a point of going to hear her in person as soon as I could.
In many places in this recording -- like, the entire 1st etude on here ("Aeolian Harp") -- if I didn't know who it was, my guess would have been it was a tech-cleaned-up 19th century recording -- in the best sense.

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This is certainly a great version. She is definitely a remarkable pianist. Some the etudes are played slower than what is usual but she adds a lot of expressivity. A truly romantic version. The precision and quality of articulation reminds me of Avdeeva even though they have a completely different style but share some technical common points. The recording here us top notch also. The first etude is gorgeous.

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Thanks for introducing. Peaceful - I wonder if other versions have the same harp like peacefulness or quality. I see one of the pieces actually references the harp! Amazing piano sound clarity too to expose the capability. Love the end etudes as much too as they also remind me of the Op. 10 No.12 revolutionary a little, which because of hearing this here I've had a listen to all these too (by others). I think she'd be great at that too as I can hear similar touches/techniques coming through here not because a little of the composition seems duplicated from it, but because of elsewhere too - Vladimir Horowitz was great to hear a moment ago too (on Revolutionary). I would like to hear him on these etudes too for further comparison: on these two different ways/styles in exuding the provocative. You mentioned there're many to compare that are also great, so I do hope to hear these eventually as well. I do not yet have much experience of hearing these to date, but must again thank you for posting as I found the play to be very touching, and expressive enough to reveal moving qualities in the composition. I suppose sometimes flair is the greater objective, but here that seems well balanced and why I compare it probably with Horowitz (because flair seems yo me not to be the sole driving force). Apologies if I'm talking nonesence because it's spur of the moment review for pieces I've likely not heard before. So great to hear uninterupted full duration recordings; something the past didn't have that we have now!

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Extraordinary recording, but so too are her other recordings.

If I could only take two CDs to my desert-island exile, one would be Milstein's Bach Sonatas and Partitas, and the other would be Rana's Goldberg Variations.


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Great version. Thanks for sharing.


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I should add that although I really liked her playing of many of the etudes and felt they were very different from most other recordings, some of the etudes on this recording I found strange in terms of the rubato. The etude in 6ths was one example.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I should add that although I really liked her playing of many of the etudes and felt they were very different from most other recordings, some of the etudes on this recording I found strange in terms of the rubato. The etude in 6ths was one example.

I liked that a lot, altho I did smile a little at the wrong notes. grin

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I should add that although I really liked her playing of many of the etudes and felt they were very different from most other recordings, some of the etudes on this recording I found strange in terms of the rubato. The etude in 6ths was one example.

I would venture that the starting idea of B.Rana is to play these pieces not as technical Etudes but as romantic compositions. As such she is really interpreting them without any concern about demonstrating a sense of virtuosity (thus ocasionally slowing down the tempo more than what most are doing) but rather trying to find an expressive meaning. That leads her to a very personal interpretation; where others would keep a fairly steady pace, she is leaning toward a personal interpretation as she feels it appropriate.

In certain cases, it may be surprising but that is what makes it so unusual. That piece is definitely played way out of the usual versions.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I should add that although I really liked her playing of many of the etudes and felt they were very different from most other recordings, some of the etudes on this recording I found strange in terms of the rubato. The etude in 6ths was one example.

I would venture that the starting idea of B.Rana is to play these pieces not as technical Etudes but as romantic compositions. As such she is really interpreting them without any concern about demonstrating a sense of virtuosity (thus ocasionally slowing down the tempo more than what most are doing) but rather trying to find an expressive meaning. That leads her to a very personal interpretation; where others would keep a fairly steady pace, she is leaning toward a personal interpretation as she feels it appropriate.

In certain cases, it may be surprising but that is what makes it so unusual. That piece is definitely played way out of the usual versions.

BTW, I doubt she could have won the Chopin competition playing it like that ....

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Originally Posted by Mark_C
I find it extraordinary.
Me too.

Originally Posted by Mark_C
I've loved her playing since hearing her in the Cliburn* and got 2nd prize (IMO should have been 1st**), and made a point of going to hear her in person as soon as I could.***
* Me too.
** Me too (I was there for the whole thing, so this is an informed opinion lol).
*** Me too (recital in the Terrace Theater at The Kennedy Center--marvelous!).

Originally Posted by Mark_C
In many places in this recording -- like, the entire 1st etude on here ("Aeolian Harp") -- if I didn't know who it was, my guess would have been it was a tech-cleaned-up 19th century recording -- in the best sense.
Me too (sort of).


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I should add that although I really liked her playing of many of the etudes and felt they were very different from most other recordings, some of the etudes on this recording I found strange in terms of the rubato. The etude in 6ths was one example.

I agree. In some of them, e.g. 25/6, it seemed like I was "hearing" too many bar lines and phantom fermatas. But it was only a minor distraction from her otherwise exquisite playing.


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I'll be the bad guy here and say it's merely good. Some of them felt a bit clunky and slow. Good moments throughout of course. Fine colorist.

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Astonishing recording. And you're absolutely right- one does not expect to be astonished and moved to goosebumps from hearing the Chopin etudes, pieces that one hears all day long in practice rooms. Rana once said that the hardest thing, and the most important thing, is to work against the force of tradition in interpreting a certain piece and to look at it with fresh eyes. (Can't find the video again- it was an interview before a concerto performance).


"Love has to be the starting point- love of music. It is one of my firmest convictions that love always produces some knowledge, while knowledge only rarely produces something similar to love."
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