Geoff Adams
Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)

Another outstanding release from the Australian label are these sonatas by Rachmaninov (Melba uses a different transliteration) plus Three Piano Pieces (1917) and the Russian composer's brief arrangement of Nunc Dimittis Op 37 No 5. Melbourne-born Howard is probably the most prolific soloist on disc with more than 130 recordings.

Sonata No 2 is a showpiece for virtuosos, considered unplayable by many when written in 1913 and then simplified after its premiere, but here Howard romps through the original version to show what a great Romantic sonata it is, resonant with the ever-present tolling of bells, as Howard observes in the notes.

Recorded in England in 2009, this is a treat for all Rachmaninov and piano music lovers.

Highlight: Sonata's original splendour.