Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Two Historic Recordings in the Year 1957 - If Only Rachmaninoff Could Have Heard...

One of a handful of young pianists whom Vladimir Horowitz chose  to work with was the American Byron Janis.
This singularly gifted pianist achieved international recognition rather quickly, and performed both in recital and with many of the great conductors, receiving the highest praise by both critics and audiences wherever he appeared. It is indeed fortunate a reality that Janis produced a number of recordings that attested to his greatness before  the scourge of arthritis put a temporary halt to his career  at the height of his successes. Fortunately, he was able to recover enough to perform once again. 
I think of two such defining performances, both recorded in 1957; namely, the first and third Concertos of Rachmaninoff.
The first Concerto was done with the legendary Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony; the third Concerto with  Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
The restored versions of these recordings were processed, as I recall, around 1997, and brilliantly convey to us the magnificence of Janis' readings and his wonderfully balanced assessments of the two great conductors he worked with in what I consider to be two of the more important  readings of  these works that are available to us.
Do listen to these recordings, and see if you agree with me that the sweep and  the swirl of the idiosyncratic ways of Janis give Rachmaninoff a kind of meaning that is simply not expected, and yet embraced.

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1 Comments:

Blogger eclectic geek said...

I would agree with your comments regarding the Janis recording of the Rach 3. His performance has an epic power and emotional depth that is exceedingly enjoyable to hear, and is one of my favorites of this concerto, along with Gavrilov's recording with Muti, and Gavrilov's earlier recording with Lazarev (my favorite) which is an unknown gem for most Americans as it has never been re-released from it's original LP medium after we hit the "CD age". ... As an aside, I came across your blog quite accidentally when looking up information on recordings of Octavio Pinto and your blog had a posting that placed it in my search results. Janis recorded some Pinto as well, and it is quite vibrant. Your blog postings are quite interesting in terms of the breadth of connections and ideas across different disciplines that you relate. I shall return to read more of them.

July 6, 2014 at 6:44 PM  

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