BRAHMS: Piano Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, Op. 5. Intermezzo in E, Op. 116
No. 6. Romance in F, Op. 118 No. 5.
CHOPIN: Scherzo No. 1 in B Minor, Op. 20. Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat Minor,
Op. 31. Scherzo No. 3 in C# Minor, Op. 29. Scherzo No. 4 in E, Op. 54.
CHOPIN: Piano Sonata No.2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 35 "Funeral
Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58.
The distinguished JVC series of RCA Victor reissues continues with three releases of performances by the legendary Arthur Rubinstein. The four Chopin scherzi were recorded in May 1959 in New York's Manhattan Center with John Pfeiffer as producer, Lewis Layton as engineer. In December of that year Rubinstein recorded the Brahms sonata and two piano pieces, this time at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, with the Polish pianist's favorite producer, Max Wilcox, in charge, and engineer John Crawford. The two Chopin sonatas were recorded in January 1961 in Manhattan Center again with Wilcox, this time Anthony Salvatore was in charge of engineering. The quality of these performances is undisputed; they represent one of the major pianists of the century in his prime, with his piano sound superbly captured by RCA on all three.
JVC's 24 bit Super Analog transfers are magnificent for sure. There is a subtle difference in sound quality when compared with original releases of these recordings as well as their later releases all of which are currently available at half the cost (or less) of these handsome new issues. And these are luxury albums indeed, with the jewel case a part of the sturdy outer cardboard box. It does seem strange that as these obviously are intended to be sold in the U.S. all program notes are in Japanese although there is a program sheet in English and four pages in English about the JVC transfer process. These are pricey but classy additions to the CD catalog.
R.E.B. (December 2003)