Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25. No. 11. 1962
New Recordings First-Rate
New Recordings First-Rate
The record situation this week is poverty stricken. However, the discs that are available are top rank and are unlikely to be surpassed for quite some time.
Liszt. Piano concertos: No. 1, In E Flat major and No. 2, in A major. Sviatoslav Richter (piano) with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kyril Kondrashin. Philips ABL 3401 (Mono)
Kondrashin makes the LSO play as the Philharmonia did in its heyday: the soloists are in superb form and their ensemble work is excellent. Both orchestra and soloist Richter play in perfect accord—as equal partners in fact, and there is no. Feeling that the orchestra is there purely as an accompanist to keyboard fireworks.
Both the conductor and pianist provide a few surprises in their readings, the kind that occur when the composer's markings are noted instead of being disregarded.
In the second concerto, for example, the opening bars are played quite slowly (that is. In comparison with most versions) and yet one finds that this is not only more expressive than what is usually heard, but is closer to Liszt's marking of Adagio.
As for accord between soloist and orchestra this is most in evidence in the rushing scale passages andtuttis; Richter's playing shows exactly why some people rank him as the greatest pianist to yet appear from Russia. The piano is beautifully balanced with the orchestra and the very low notes are recorded with a startling degree of realism. The string tone is notable, along with the clarity of orchestral texture as a whole and many details of scoring previously often obscured stand out for at attention.
I have heard only the mono disc (but the stereo version is due for release soon) and my particular copy had a troublesome amount of crackle through the first minutes of the A major concerto Fault I doubt will be encountered in other pressings.
Ravel. Piano Concerto in G Major. Shostakovich. Piano Concerto No. 2, opus 101 . Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (Shostakovich) and the Columbia Symphony Orchestra (Ravel), the conductor as piano soloist. Coronet KLCS 2746 (Stereo).
The fact that Bernstein conducts the orchestra as well as plays the solos is, of course, of little moment in itself. What is Important is that the orchestral ensemble shouldn't get out of hand while he is playing himself I don't know whether to hand ii to the orchestras for their professionalism (in being able to play without a conductor) or to for having drilled them so well. Whatever the reason, one's worries on that score are settled the first time through. Though the trumpet player of the CBS has some difficult moments in the opening movement of the Ravel G Major, there are no false entries, out of touch ensembles or sloppy phrasing in either work.
Bernstein's keyboard technique shows him to be the accomplished all-round musician that Coronet claim him to be. His ability is prodigious and he can mould some particularly seductive phrases as easily as he tosses off some particularly dextrous percussive effects in the Shostakovich.
The stereo engineering is bright, clean and forward, with good balance and quiet surfaces, making this record most desirable indeed.