Reviews | RH-006 | Sergio Fiorentino -1- complete Rachmaninoff live

19 February 2020 | Stephen Greenbank | MusicWeb International | Sergio Fiorentino, Rachmaninov complete solo piano works live  «[...] Fiorentino was a formidable Bach interpreter, but his leanings were mainly towards the romantic period of Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Scriabin and Rachmaninov. His technique was outstanding and memory prodigious, but he shunned showmanship and instead strived to penetrate to the heart of the piece he was playing. His interpretations are notable for their freedom of expression, a trait common to pianists of the late 19th century. [...] The sound quality is consistently good throughout. The accompanying documentation ticks all the right boxes in supplying context surrounding the project, and the photographs are an added source of interest. Rachmaninov fans certainly will not be disappointed having a cycle of the complete solo works, captured with the spontaneity and freshness the live recital affords.» 
Favourite Releases of 2019 | 31 December 2019 | Mark Ainley | THE PIANO FILES   « The Rhine Classics label has set a  high standard for their releases of various historical performers, with productions featuring two pianists in particular capturing my attention this past year (originally planned for 2018, these sets in fact came out this past Spring). First off is an utterly mindblowing release of the complete Rachmaninoff solo piano music by Italian master pianist Sergio Fiorentino, an artist I came to know through the great German collector Ernst Lumpe, to whom the piano world owes a huge debt of gratitude for coaxing the master out of retirement and ensuring that his last decade of concerts was recorded. In this set, we find in absolutely stunning sound quality Fiorentino’s masterful traversals of Rachmaninoff’s solo works, the golden sheen of his sound and refinement of his nuancing as captivating as his passionate and intelligent interpretations. Truly a must-have for every Rachmaninoff fan and every Fiorentino fan – which should equate with every lover of great piano playing! (Their release of a 1998 Fiorentino recital in Taiwan is another must.) [...] »
28 December 2019 | Maciej Chizynski | ResMusica | À emporter, CD | L’œuvre pour piano seul de Sergueï Rachmaninov par Sergio Fiorentino    «À l’automne de sa vie, Sergio Fiorentino enregistre l’intégrale de l’œuvre pour piano seul de Sergueï Rachmaninov, caressant l’oreille par la netteté du toucher comme par la simplicité. Un souffle divin se diffusait dans l’Auditorium Domenico Scarlatti RAI à Naples et animait Sergio Fiorentino lorsqu’il donnait au public, en septembre 1987, ces récitals entièrement dévolus à la musique de l’un de ses compositeurs préférés, transférés au disque à partir de bandes originales par Emilio Pessina. Fiorentino en connaît par cœur chaque note, paraît-il, ainsi que chaque pause, et il nous désarme par la sincérité et la suavité de ses interprétations, baignées de délicatesse et de couleurs lumineuses. [...] Le jeu de Sergio Fiorentino révèle un extraordinaire sens du panache, de la poésie et du raffinement des couleurs. Comme par magie, ses phrasés chantent avec pureté et douceur, en évoquant toute une palette d’émotions et une multitude d’ambiances. On est saisi aussi bien par les nuances piano, surprenantes de velouté, que par les forte profonds et pourtant jamais criards. [...] »
December 2019 | GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2019 (pg. 133) | Rob Cowan | BOX-SET Round-up | Sergio Fiorentino - Rachmaninov Complete Solo Piano Works Live    «Sergio Fiorentino’s live coverage of Rachmaninov’s complete solo piano music on Rhine Classics presents a different sort of problem, though certainly not in terms of interpretation (most of it was recorded in 1987), which favours a manner of impassioned directness that often recalls the composer’s own playing. True, the piano tone can be brittle, and Fiorentino isn’t always technically infallible, but there’s real fire on display here, especially in the sonatas (No 2 is offered in the 1931 revision) and the two sets of preludes. [...] As to the rest, Fiorentino’s unguarded impetuosity is impressive and there are bonuses with orchestra in the guise of the First Piano Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody. I played these performances many times...» 
25 July 2019 | Jonathan Woolf | MusicWeb International | Sergio Fiorentino - Sergei Rachmaninov: Complete Solo Piano Works   «A superbly realised cycle from a romantic lion of the keyboard. Over the course of four recitals during September 1987, Sergio Fiorentino performed Rachmaninov’s complete solo piano works. Broadcast live by Italian RAI, Radio 3, the master tapes were retained by Fiorentino, from whose collection they have now been made available in splendid-sounding restorations. They occupy six CDs and are housed in Rhine’s customary sturdy boxes. [...] This excellent package brings together a superbly realised cycle from a romantic lion of the keyboard.» 

CHOC de CLASSICA | June 2019 | Jean-Charles Hoffelé | Classica No.213 (pg.91) | Sergio Fiorentino - Incandescent Beethoven, Rachmaninoff of madness, and a mystery: why do we have forgot this wonderful pianist?   «[...] Rachmaninov became his chosen composer over the years, the live recordings of the Rhapsody, the First (in the original version, its final is a madness) and Fourth Concertos, make cry the absence of the Second and Third. Fortunately RAI had asked him for the complete piano solo work, Fiorentino gave it in September 1987 during four nights of pure delirium happily captured. They have just been published, the last victory of a vengeful posterity on this existence which danced with panache over the precipices of oblivion.»  'Rachmaninoff Complete Solo Piano Works Live', Rhine Classics RH-006 (6 CD), CHOC ◗ 'Live in Taiwan', Rhine Classics RH-009 (1 CD), CHOC ◗

26 May 2019 | Jean-Charles Hoffelé | ARTAMAG' - Le disque du jour | Sergio Fiorentino - Le pianiste de Rachmaninov   «[...] la bravoure pianistique s’y allie à un sens des couleurs incroyable, une noblesse du style, une élégance qui excluent tout pathos. Et si c’était la meilleure intégrale jamais enregistré du legs pianistique de Rachmaninov ? Les Etudes-tableaux montrent le virtuose sans tapage qu’était Fiorentino, tout chante dans cet immense clavier qui exhausse les polyphonies et envole les rythmes. Les Préludes eux-mêmes quittent leur cadre de miniature pour devenir à chaque fois de vrais univers, et les deux Sonates, jouées absolument à dix doigts, sonnent telles des symphonies de piano. [...] La prise de son capte à merveille le magnifique Steinway boisé de l’Auditorium Domenico Scarlatti de la RAI de Naples. Rhine Classics ajoutent deux bonus considérables. La captation de la version originale du Premier Concerto qui documente l’art du jeune Fiorentino (nous sommes le 27 septembre 1958) : il faut entendre comment il éclaire le petit intermezzo à la fin de l’Andante, sotto voce, et avec quel brio, il transporte jusqu’à la folie l’Allegro vivace. Autre merveille, la Rhapsodie sur un thème de Paganini enregistrée cette fois l’année même où il quitte le Conservatoire et repend le chemin des théâtres, d’une fantaisie excitante au possible. Les concerts reprirent donc à compter de cette année 1991, menant le pianiste octogénaire jusqu’à Taïwan pour ce qui devait être une de ses ultimes apparitions. Sommet de ce concert, dans une sonorité claire et pourtant ombreuse, l’Opus 110, entre prière et exaltation, vraie élévation spirituelle inoubliable dès qu’on l’a entendue. [...] Edition soignée, son splendide, iconographie abondante, appareil critique remarquable, magnifique ouvrage d’un éditeur passionné. J’espère que suivront d’autres documents illustrant l’art de ce géant du piano que l’on n’en finit pas de redécouvrir. »
17 May 2019 | The Piano Files with Mark Ainley (facebook page) | Sergio Fiorentino plays Rachmaninoff  «An absolutely stupendous production - glorious playing in magnificent sound... such a treasure!»
8 May 2019 | Tom Deacon -former Universal Music Group Producer- (facebook page) | Sergio Fiorentino plays Rachmaninoff  «Almost impossible to comprehend the achievement here. Over a number of days in 1988 Sergio Fiorentino sat down in front of the RAI microphones to record "live" before a public the complete solo piano music of Sergei Rachmaninoff. The master tapes have been found, beautifully remastered by Emilio Pessina and issued in a box set from Rhine Classics.   The words "slack-jawed" or "bouche bée" pretty much sum up the feeling I have in. listening to these recordings. Fiorentino has everything it takes to be a great interpreter of Rachmaninoff: awesome technique, unvarying implacable pulse and thrust, beautiful tone, and a complete absence of sentimentality. Moreover such nobility. Fiorentino treats this like great music. In his hands it is.   It's all here, folks, the early pieces, the complete preludes and études, the variations, and both sonatas. Critics will pick and gnaw at this and that detail, missing as they usually do the wood for the trees. That's what they consider their job! I will not play that senseless game. I will also not indulge in comparisons. I know them all but this one is truly for the ages. Imcomparable.»