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Robert SCHUMANN(1810-1856) Piano
Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 [29:33] Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY(1840-1893) Piano Concerto
No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23 [35:35]
Sviatoslav Richter (piano)
Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra/Stanislaw Wislocki
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
rec. 1959 and 1962. ADD stereo ALTO ALC 1200 [65:00]
Working from original Deutsche Grammophon LPs Paul Arden-Taylor has
given these two classic performances a fresh lease of bargain basement
life. This continues the line established by Alto’s previous resurrection
of the Richter/Michelangeli Rachmaninov concertos, which on that occasion
married up DG and EMI sessions (review).
In fact the Schumann concerto here is from the same forces as the
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2. The similarly plangent results can
trace their source from a hypnotically deep romantic tradition. Here
it is sensitive to the telling impact of the most careful attention
to dynamic contrast without descending into mannered italicisation.
The Tchaikovsky concerto finds the participants in burly romantic
form. This is high octane stuff but I still prefer the growl and swoon
of the Postnikova and Rozhdestvensky version with the same orchestra
Still Richter is extraordinary though at times he does seem to be
engaged in an epic struggle with Karajan. It keeps the listener on
his toes. I also recall that another later collaboration between Karajan
and Alexis Weissenberg was well worth hearing – one of my formative
musical listening experiences (EMI ASD 2576). Let me not leave this
work without again holding a laudatory torch for a rare CD coupling
of what I consider to be among the very finest couplings of the first
two Tchaikovsky concertos: Mikhaïl Petukhov with the Buenos Aires
Phil conducted by Alexander Anissimov – the latter on very good form
by comparison with his occasionally lacklustre showings on Naxos in
Glazunov - Pavane
The LP stock yields up really good red-blooded results: towering yet
poetic especially in the case of the Tchaikovsky. That said, in the
Schumann and in the second movement of the Tchaikovsky there are some
largely veiled but not inaudible low level thumps. Those and other
occasional though discrete audio detritus are to be heard if you go
listening. On the other hand you really have better things to do in
this elite company.
Once again James Murray provides the complementary liner notes touching
in all those fine little details that round out the experience.
These are performances full of vibrant character and the stuff of
which musical discoveries are made likewise for those new to repertoire
and for older and even jaded listeners.