April 8, 2017
As I listened to this selectiion for the first time I thought to myself what an unusual choice of selections especially the Rimsky-Korsakov selection, one that I would consider unsung and seldom performed. Does Lizst and Tchaikovsky fit? The answer to the question is a resounding yes. Not only does the historical (50+) years sound good, no stereo, but the playing is very good. While this would not be my choice of listening recordings of the Tchaikovsky or the Lizst recordings:I guess we have our favorites I tend to favor the Rimsky Korsakov recording over any of the others I have heard. For me this was just another orchestral color piece of Rimsky-Korsakov not better or worse than many of his others. This performance seemed to stick a little more inside me and I wanted to hear it again and again. Suddenly I began to enjoy the fine playing and listened to it as more of a piano concerto rather than an orchestral piece and I truly appreciated it for what it was written for. It is a scant 13 minutes, 5 minutes less than Tchaikovsky’s first movement but the shortness is an advantage as there is no excess baggage and every note and chord are there for a reason.
Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto is the favorite of many and for good reason. It is filled with melodies and is very accessible to even the beginning classical listener. The Lizst has a very powerful bold melody in the first movement that is fully developed around piano chords. A second more delicate theme appears part way through the first movement and continues into the next movement. A new theme, rather flashy surfaces in the third movement and also a repeat of the second theme. The final movement is a repeat of the theme from the first movement. Note that this is a four movement concerto not the standard three which is the norm.
Keep in mind that this is considered a historical recording and you’ll not hear the extended range as you’re accustomed to hearing on a Chandos recording. I feel that the fine playing overcomes that objection nicely.