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Thread: Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto 1

  1. #31
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Well, as often happens (see Strauss tone poems) this thread inspired me into an obsessive Tchaikovsky PC1 listening fest.

    I still see Horowitz as the ultimate in this work. The 1943 war bonds concert with Toscanini is simply the most inspired version I know. Mind you not the most "perfect" version, particularly in the middle movement, but no other recording blows me away like this one. Very close is the 1940 Horowitz/Barbirolli, unfortunately atrociously recorded. But Barbirolli is more free than Toscanini, and his collaboration with Horowitz, just as in their unsuprassed Rach 3 a year later, is electric. By contrast, the earlier Toscanini versions in 1941, one live and one in studio, sound less inspired, a bit more straight-laced. This would definitely not be the way I would describe the 1953 collaboration with Szell, as free-wheeling an account as has been made to the point of almost being reckless. The 1948 Walter collaboration is certainly exciting as well, just not quite as memorable as the others.

    Next to Horowitz I'd have to rank Solomon and Richter as the greatest interpreters I have heard, each offering a bit more subtlety and nuance. Solomon is best heard sound-wise with Dobrowen in 1949 studio on EMI/Testament, but for me there is more fire in the 1929 version with Harty although dimly recorded. The big surprise is the live Solomon with the Kansas City PO under some guy named Hans Schweiger. I found this to be scintillating despite often ragged ensemble, most notably at the very first horn entrance.

    Richter is in some ways the anti-Horowitz in this work, mercurial and searching as opposed to taking off with unbridled virtuosity (which he could provide just as well). With Ancerl I feel his approach is heard at its best, while with Mravinsky (an appropriately Russian sounding performance) the virtuosic side is more emphasized. I join with others in thinking the Karajan version to be less inspired, and yet in its own idiosyncratic way it still makes for an enjoyable listening experience.

    Among stereo versions most seem to prefer Argerich, Gilels, and Cliburn, and I concur although to this list I must add the uniquely engaging Earl Wild with Fistoulari in very good 1962 sound. Among Argerich versions I found Dutoit the most convincing, with an appropriate sweep to the orchestral sound. Argerich, if you pardon the expression, applies a certain woman's touch to the concerto so that it is more than just barnstorming virtuosity. This is my top recommendation for a modern sounding version of this concerto (although I always wondered how a 1971 recording could have so much tape hiss).

    Cliburn/Kondrashin is of course one of the most famous of all classical records, and it would be all too easy to listen to the slowish tempos and somewhat underwhelming virtuosity and discard this as a mere figment of mass popularity. But there is an inspiration behind this version that makes it earn its place among the greats. There is a special love for the music communicated here, even if it doesn't club you over the head as Horowitz can.

    Gilels is of course another virtuosic master in this work, if not quite as individual as others. I actually like the Maazel the best. Apart from the fuller sound, Maazel actually does a better job IMO than the somewhat overly steady Reiner at bringing out the drama and excitement, and Gilels here is even more authoritative. Both are more inspired than the Mehta version, although Zubin offers the cleanest sound quality.

    Finally, thanks to the above posters for mentioning Freire/Kempe. What an astonishing high octane version! This definitely stood out to me as one worthy to join the others on my "essentials" list:


    Vladimir Horowitz/Arturo Toscanini (1943) (RCA, Naxos) ♫
    Solomon/Hamilton Harty (Naxos, Pearl, Piano Library)
    Sviatoslav Richter/Karel Ancerl (Supraphon, Andromeda)
    Martha Argerich/Charles Dutoit (DG) ◄
    Earl Wild/Anatole Fistoulari (Chesky)
    Van Cliburn/Kyrill Kondrashin (1958) (RCA)
    Emil Gilels/Lorin Maazel (EMI)
    Nelson Freire/Rudolf Kempe (Sony)

    Further listening: Vladimir Horowitz/John Barbirolli (APR, Urania), Vladimir Horowitz/George Szell (Urania, Palexa), Sviatoslav Richter/Evgeny Mravinsky (Praga, Hänssler, Urania, Melodiya, Minuet), Solomon/Hans Schweiger (APR), Solomon/Issay Dobrowen (EMI, Testament, Naxos), Sviatoslav Richter/Kirill Kondrashin (Russian Revelation, Alliance), Martha Argerich/Claudio Abbado (DG), Emil Gilels/Fritz Reiner (RCA), Gary Graffman/George Szell (Sony), Ivo Pogorelich/Claudio Abbado (DG), Byron Janis/Herbert Menges (Mercury), Martha Argerich/Kyrill Kondrashin (Philips), Sviatoslav Richter/Herbert von Karajan (DG), Mikhail Pletnev/Vladimir Fedoseyev (Virgin), Emil Gilels/Zubin Mehta (Sony), Vladimir Ashkenazy/Lorin Maazel (Decca)



    Also, as long as we are mentioning Gilels, this may actually be the best of all his recorded versions, with video to boot! What a thrill to see him performing this warhorse live.

    Last edited by Brahmsianhorn; May-28-2020 at 21:28.

  2. #32
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    And with the great Andre Cluytens on the podium - a most seriously underrated conductor. It's a stirring, beautiful and magnificent reading. It was very fortunate that it was preserved.

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  4. #33
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    And with the great Andre Cluytens on the podium - a most seriously underrated conductor. It's a stirring, beautiful and magnificent reading. It was very fortunate that it was preserved.
    I am not a fan of Beethoven symphony boxsets, but Cluytens may well have made the most consistently satisfying cycle. Yes, very underrated.

  5. #34
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    Lazar Berman with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Karajan.



    tchaikovsky_berm_kar.jpg

  6. #35
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    As unfortunately my post did not come out I’ll post again

    Of course there are three legendary recordings by this lady on my shelves.
    With Dutoit:

    5F0B2777-F3C2-44FE-ACF5-A78A7136101E.jpeg

    Kondrashin live:

    864C8CC2-B89F-4EF1-8396-06F48BE9A6E5.jpeg

    Abando:

    1042C9E1-21D1-4DDD-B235-D614EDEB6D5C.jpeg

    Choice between any of these superb versions is personal taste. They are all tremendous.

    And Pletnev’s imperious account:

    078C973E-978F-48CB-9BA4-7CA3ACCCDE92.jpeg

    Together with concertos 2 and 3
    Last edited by DavidA; May-31-2020 at 08:49.

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