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CLASSICAL  March 2000

CLASSICAL March 2000

Subject:

Re: Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #1

From:

Marcus Maroney <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 29 Feb 2000 17:06:35 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

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R.V.D. de Carvalho wrote for recommendations:

>Sviatoslav Richter / Herbert von Karajan / Berlinker Philharmonic
> Pogorelich / Claudio Abbado

These are *extremely* idiosyncratic readings and I would be hard-pressed
to recommend any of them as a 'library' recording (they are more for the
seasoned listener, as a second third or fourth record).  I'm unaware of
a Richter/Karajan rec.  with the Berlin PO, although the one with an
excellent account of the Rach.  2nd concerto is available on DG with the
orchestra in the Thcaik being the Vienna SO--a performance which is very
dramatic, and technically well-played and recorded.  I am a *huge* Richter
devotee and I must say that this is perhaps his worst concerto recording.
Not his fault, and not HvK's either...the two artist just don't seem to
have the same aim in the work...their choices of tempi often contradict
each other, and Richter tends to emphasize different harmonies and has a
different concept of the ebb and flow of the *big* tunes.

Pogorelich is Pogorelich.  And Abbado is perhaps not the most ideal Tchaik
conductor.  I've only heard this recording a couple of times at a friend's
house and I found nothing exceptional about it except for a waywardness
that gets in the way of Tchaikovsky and doesn't ever seem to add anything
special to the music.  Again, this seems totally at odds with Abbado's
total aesthetic towards music making, where the composer's intentions
always seem to come first (often leading to a rather dull performance,
unfortunately)--so we are met with the same problem that we had with
Richter/Karajan--opposing views that sometimes leave the listener
wondering...where is this all going? Again, recorded sound is fine,
but I wouldn't say this is a first recommendation.

Fortunately there are several inexpensive versions that are excellent.
Van Cliburn's famous account is a must...perhaps *the* first choice for
this repertoire...why not just go ahead and get his volume in Philips'
Great Pianists series? You'll get other good to excellent performances,
including a great Rachmaninov 3rd concerto, excellent Chopin 2nd sonata,
and some pretty good Chopin...all for a little more than one full-priced
disc (less if you're a member of BMG.) It is just so exciting and natural,
and Kondrashin is an ideal provides an excellent companion throughout (much
better than in his later recording with Argerich, where he seems
understandably unable to follow Argerich's often esoteric tempo changes).

John Browning's account with Seiji Ozawa is also excellent.  His a much
lighter approach than most others, and only in the first movement does
one feel something of a lack of 'weightiness'.

As for Argerich, I don't really care for her latest recording with
Kondrashin, although many do.  I find there are too many technical
errors and misalignments with the orchestra, as well as an odd (artificial)
balance between orchestra and soloist.  If you're into live performances
and don't care about such things, this may be the way to go.  I much prefer
her recording with Dutoit and the Royal PO on DG--it's turned up on several
budget labels.  Dutoit is an excellent accompanist...the Royal Phil.
sounds excellent, and Argerich's characteristic fire and fleet fingerwork
are omnipresent.  The only difference between this record and the
Kondrashin is that there are more right notes and the orchestra and
pianist play together *all* the time.

Cheers,

Marcus Maroney

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