GRANADOS: Escenas romanticas. Bocetos. Cuentos de la juventud.
Alicia de Larrocha, pianist
RCA BMG 63368 (F) (DDD) TT: 52:56

TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23 (rec 1941). RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 (rec. 1951). CHOPIN: Polonaise-Fantasie, Op. 61 (rec. 1951). Mazurka, Op. 30 No. 4 (rec. 1949). Nocturne, Op. 9 No. 2 (rec. 1957). SCHUMANN: Träumerei (rec. 1950). Wieck Variations (rec. 1976). SCRIABIN: Preludes Op. 48 No. 3, Op. 11 No. 13 and Op. 15 No. (rec. 1956). Etude Op. 18 No. 12 (rec. 1982). MOSZKOWSKI: Etincelles (rec. 1951). BIZET-HOROWITZ: Variations on a Theme from Carmen (rec. 1947). PROKOFIEV: Toccata, Op. 11 (rec. 1947). CLEMENTI: Rondo from Sonata Op. 47 No. 2 (rec. 1950). POULENC: Presto (rec. 1947). RACHMANINOFF: Prelude Op. 32 No. 5 (rec. 1977). SCARLATTI: Sonatas in F Minor, L189, and A, L494 (rec. 1981). LISZT: Mephisto Waltz (rec. 1979)
Vladimir Horowitz, pianist (NBC SO/Toscanini-Tchaikovsky); (RCA Victor SO/Reiner-Rachmaninoff)
RCA 56052 (2 CDs for the price of one) (mono/stereo) (ADD) TT: 138:58

SCHUMANN: Sonata No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22 (rec. Mar. 10, 1933). LISZT: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat (London SO/Ronald, rec. Nov. 11 & 14, 1929). Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 in D flat (rec. Dec. 15, 1927). Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 in C sharp minor (rec. Mar. 16, 1933). Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13 in A minor (rec. Mar. 16, 1933). Concert Etude No. 3 in D-flat (rec. Nov. 21, 1928). La Campanella (rec. Dec. 16, 1927). MOSZKOWSKI: La Jongleuse, OP. 52 No. 4 (rec. Dec. 16, 1927). LEVITZKI: Waltz in A, Op. 2 (rec. Nov. 21, 1929).
Mischa Levitzky, pianist
NAXOS 8.110769 (B) (mono) (ADD) TT: 78:33

It's always a pleasure to have a new recording by Alicia de Larrocha who has recently, at the age of eighty, completed her farewell concert tour. Throughout her distinguished career, after being "discovered" by Artur Rubinstein, she has specialized in Spanish music and made numerous recordings for Decca, EMI and RCA. Only one of these is unsuccessful, her recording of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, but the others are splendid in every way, particularly the several recordings she made of Iberia by Albeniz. On this new RCA CD she is on home territory with delectable performances of piano musc of Enrique Granados, exquisitely phrased and played with remarkable nuance. There are no major pianistic fireworks here; all of this music is quite gentle and serene. These are not new recordings; they were made in 1994 and this is their first release. RCA's sound is excellent. It's unfortunate there isn't more music—52:26 isn't much playing time for a full-price CD.

RCA's 2-CD set of Vladimir Horowitz "Legendary RCA Recordings" is a compilation of some of his most famous solo recordings for the label on one CD, two concerto recordings on the other. Producers have elected to include the 1941 studio recording of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 instead of the live Carnegie Hall performance of two years later, which is even more exciting. Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 is heard in the 1951 studio recording with Fritz Reiner and an undernourished "RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra." Of interest, surely, but Horowitz's live performances of the work with conductors Bruno Walter, George Szell and John Barbirolli are far more demonic. The second CD offers recordings made from 1949 to 1982 in a wide range of repertory including one of my favorites, a 1947 performance of Prokofiev's Toccata in C. It's difficult to imagine collectors not already owning these recordings. If you don't, here is a relatively inexpensive way to acquire them.

Naxos continues its series of recordings by Mischa Levitzky with this second volume containing Gramophone recordings from 1927-1933; the first volume has already been reviewed on this site. Of major interest is his performance of Liszt's Piano Concerto No.1 recorded in 1929 with Sir Landon Ronald and the London Symphony. This is one of the most exciting interpretations you'll hear of this oft-played work, and Levitzky shows what a first-class virtuoso he was. I imagine that his rather hurried performance of Un sospiro was because they wanted to get it onto one 78 rpm side, and just made it (4:56). Ward Marston's transfers are perfection. Highly recommended!

R.E.B. (November 2003)