Composer: Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky
Performer: Emil Gilels
Orchestra: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Fritz Reiner
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Size: 1.83 GB
Piano Concerto No.1 in B-flat minor, Op.23
01. I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso – Allegro con spirito
02. II. Andantino semplice – Prestissimo
03. III. Allegro con fuoco
1812 Overture, Op.49
04. 1812 Overture
Gilels recorded this work several times, and the dierence to the other stereo recording in print is evident instantly. Just play the rst 10 seconds from the Gilels/Maazel recording and then this one: RCA in 1955 captured a cleaner, better, richer sound than EMI engineers 20 years later. So you are instantly captivated by the sound alone; and then follows a performance with tremendous sweep and boldness. Reiner is denitely instrumental in helping this along: he was a far better conductor than Maazel could ever aspire to. In a word: don’t worry too much about niggling imperfections. This is a performance for the ages. It will stand as a beacon to the possibilities of transmitting a sense of greatness via recordings that had few equals in the 100 years that we have been making records. I might add, lest you think I’m just carried away by it, that I have been living with this recording (on LP) since about 1960 and had something like 22 rival version in my collection at one time. None of the others conveys that same aura of agnicence.
The presence of Emil Gilels (1916-1985) was always synonymous with remarkable interpretative solvency. Although his approach could be a mite cold, he had an overall concept of the score that went far beyond those of other interpreters. Were you agreed or not with his approach, there remained a bulletproof honesty and mercurial conviction that we have to acknowledge. This is an electrifying performance that is a must have, not only for the performance but for its historical value. Giles had outstanding technique as displayed in some of the more dicult passages in each of the movements. The orchestra gives him the support he needs. The conducting is up to the high standards that Reiner was able to produce. This
version of the First Piano Concerto of Tchaikovsky remains among one of his best achievements ever recorded. Genuine expressiveness, sheer pianism, uid phrasing and exemplary tune are one the major virtues of this performance.
Maestro Fritz Reiner recorded this collection of showstoppers nearly sixty years ago when he was just starting to record with the Chicago Symphony in stereo for RCA. The disc includes some of the most electrifying performances ever of the 1812, Franz Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz, Jaromir Weinberger’s Polka and Fugue from Schwanda, Smetana’s Overture to The Bartered Bride, and undoubtedly the best, most exciting version of Dvorak’s Carnival Overture I’ve ever heard.
Admittedly, however, you may nd it disappoint ing that Reiner attacks the 1812 in a slightly abridged version and sans cannons. This is, however, a musical extravaganza all the way, not a special-eects fest, and Reiner does, indeed, make the most of the music. The nal minutes, especially, are among the most thrilling on record, and the buildup to them will keep you just as riveted to your seat. With playing of the highest order from the Chicago Symphony and an interpretation that maintains the score’s musical integrity as well as its thrills, I think it would please even the composer, who famously disliked his own work