RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, OP. 18. LISZT: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat
Arthur Rubinstein, pianist; Chicago Symphony Orch/Fritz Reiner)/RCA Victor Symphony Orch/Alfred Wallenstein, cond. (Liszt)
JVC JM-XR24024 (ADD) TT: 57:02

TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23
Arthur Rubinstein , pianist; Boston Symphony Orch/Erich Leinsdorf, cond.
JVC JM-XR24023 (ADD) TT: 33:33

BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77
Henryk Szeryng, violinist; London Symphony Orch/Pierre Monteux, cond.
JVC JM-XR24021 (ADD) TT: 39:18

BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op. 83.
Emil Gilels, pianist; Chicago Symphony Orch/Fritz Reiner, cond.
JV C JM-XR24022 (ADD) TT: 44:56

JVC seems to have a particular interest in Arthur Rubinstein recordings—they already have issued his 1959-1961 recordings of sonatas and piano works of Brahms and Chopin (REV IEW). The first reissue features his second recording—and finest—of Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2 made with Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony January 9, 1956 (the first was in 1946 with the NBC Symphony conducted by Vladimir Golschmann, the third was in 1971 with the Philadelphia Orchestra directed by Eugene Ormandy), coupled with his only recording of Liszt's Concerto No. 1, made February 12, 1956 in Carnegie Hall with a pick-up orchestra conducted by Golschmann. This is the coupling from the original RCA stereo LP (LSC 2068). The Tchaikovsky is Rubinstein's third recording; the first was in in 1932 with John Barbirolli and the London Symphony, the second 1946 with Dimitri Mitropoulos and the Minneapolis Symphony. There also exist live performances including one from the BBC Proms in 1961 with Carlo Maria Giulini and the Philharmonia Orchestra, another from 1946 with Artur Rodzinski and the New York Philharmonic. This 1963 Boston recording is more controlled than any of the others, without finger slips that often occurred in Rubinstein live performances.

The Brahms violin concerto was recorded June 10, 11 and 12, 1958 in London's Kingsway Hall. Szeryng's masterful performance has been recorded with the soloist very close, perhaps the choice of producer James Walker or, perhaps, the violinist. Surely famed engineer Kenneth Wilkinson would have preferred a more natural perspective, but aside from prominence of the soloist, the sound is an example of RCA's best of the time. JVC's xrcd24 remastering is ultra-clear, with every nuance of Szeryng's playing vividly clear. The Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 was recorded February 8, 1958, and displays the Russian pianist in prime form relatively early in his career. His 1972 DGG recordings of both of the composer's piano concertos with Eugen Jochum and the Berlin Philharmonic is considered to be near-definitive (and an exciting live Amsterdam Jochum performance from the following year is available on TAHRA (REVIEW). Collectors with big pocketbooks will welcome this JVC reissue of the earlier version. All four of these reissues are premium priced and all have program notes in Japanese except for a page of listings of other issues on JVC.

R.E.B. (May 2005)