The seventeen Études-tableaux date from the last decade of Rachmaninov’s life in Russia. By this time he had completed Preludes in each of the major and minor keys and was ready to move in a slightly different direction. By qualifying the term with the word tableau, Rachmaninov seemed to be suggesting the introduction of a visual or even programmatic element into these complex ‘studies’. Vladimir Ashkenazy recorded the Op. 33 set of Études-tableaux four years apart, taping Nos. 2, 3, 5 and 6 in September 1977 and Nos. 1, 4, 7 and 8 in April 1981. He recorded the Op. 39 set twice – first in February 1973 and then in June 1985/September 1986. The 1985-86 recordings were released internationally on CD, but this is the first international release of the earlier 1973 recordings.