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