BACH-BUSONI: Prelude and Fugue in D minor, BWV 532. SCARLATTI: Sonata
in A, K. 101. Sonata in D, K. 96 "The Hunt." SCHUMANN: Toccata in C, Op.
7. LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No.6 in D flat. Polonaise No. 2 in E. Grand
Galop Chromatique. CHOPIN: Polonaise No. 6 in A flat, Op. 53 "Heroic."
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Russian Easter Festival Overture. RACHMANINOFF: Piano
Concerto No. 1 in F# minor, Op. 1. SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 4 in C
minor, Op. 43.
MOZART: Bassoon Concerto in B flat, K. 191. BARTÓK: Concerto for Orchestra.
DVORAK: Carnival Overture, Op. 92. Symphony No. 8 in G, Op. 88. Slavonic
Dance in G minor, Op. 46 No. 8.
The first of these DVDs is a valuable addition to the catalog. We have the opportunity to watch the pianistic fireworks of Hungarian pianist György Cziffra (1921-1994), beginning with his astounding "improvisation" that includes music of Chopin, recorded in London (this also can be seen on YOUTUBE). Cziffra tosses off the manifold difficulties of Schumann's Toccata and the Liszt works nonchalantly, and it's a pleasure to watch his unaffected playing. And don't overlook Cziffra's EMI DVD (REVIEW). The only other DVD of Cuban Jorge Bolet (1914-1990) is a performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue from the Bell Telephone Hour in 1961. Now we have his London TV performances of Albeniz, Chopin and Liszt filmed the following year. And what a pleasure it is to observe Benno Moiseiwitsch play—how tragic there are no videos of the pianist's good friend, Sergei Rachmaninoff—but the latter would never permit recording or filming of any of his performances. Moiseiwitsch's Schumann performances were filmed in 1954; other works date from 1963, and one wonders why only variations 17 (the lush rhapsodic treatment of Paganini's theme) through the end were filmed. A young Charles Groves conducts a truncated Philharmonia Orchestra in a studio performance—some members of the orchestra applaud at the end, but this is not as fine as the pianist's other recordings of the work, particularly the live performance from the 1955 Proms (REVIEW).
Russian conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky (b. 1931) has enjoyed a distinctive career and has led most of the major orchestras of the world. He was chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic from 1978-1981; performances seen on this DVD are from that period. His wife, pianist Viktoria Postnikova, whom he married in 1969, is soloist in the Rachmaninoff concerto, offering a lush reading that is not always technically perfect. The Rimsky-Korsakov overture is given a placid reading, and this disk's prime interest is the Shostakovich Symphony No. 4, a work he edited for a volume of music by the composer.
Mehta's DVD is a memento of his tenure with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (1962-1978). These performances were recorded January 10-13, 1977 in the Music Center of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, a drab concert hall that doubtless had been refurbished since then. David Breidenthal, who still is principal bassoon with the orchestra, gives an outstanding performance of Mozart's concerto for the instrument. The other works are specialties of Mehta.
Sound on all of these DVDs is acceptable, considering dates when they were made.
R.E.B. (October 2008)