Notes and Editorial Reviews
Benchmark recordings of Tchaikovsky -- many aspiring pianists may think of changing professions after hearing Graffman soar through these iconic works with such dazzling élan.
At last. Gary Graffman's recordings of Tchaikovsky's Second and Third Concertos were the ones which introduced me to these works. They have remained my benchmarks ever since, the admirable couplings by Haas, Douglas, Gilels, Pletnev and others notwithstanding and despite the second movement of the Second being in the truncated Siloti edition. As Graffman makes clear in his entertaining memoir
I Really Should Be Practicing (Doubleday: 1981) — among the best of pianists' autobiographies — Ormandy was a prince of accompanists. The
two artists had known each other for 20 years and it shows. There are many memorable passages, among them the conclusion of the Second Concerto's volcanic central first-movement cadenza when the orchestra re-enters with the opening subject (15'58"), initially failing to subdue Graffman's ecstatic quasi-trill at the top of the keyboard; and a similar moment in the Third Concerto when Ormandy introduces (11'05") some crunching off-beat cymbal crashes.
Szell also proves a convivial, alert partner in the First Concerto, providing deft touches that lift this account above the ordinary. Listen, for instance, to the syncopated brass figure beneath the apotheosis of the last movement's second subject. If Graffman eschews the demonic brilliance of Horowitz, his reading is all about Tchaikovsky. Horowitz's is more about Horowitz.
To complete this all-Russian programme, there is Graffman's compelling Mussorgsky where once again he creates, well, pictures that live in the memory: 'Bydlo' appears in the misty distance, lumbers by and vanishes again (superb), while the unhatched chicks are played with a rare sense of fun. Finally, there is Islamey. Many aspiring pianists may think of changing professions after hearing Graffman soar through this iconic barnstormer with such dazzling élan.
-- Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone [1/2006]
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Gary Graffman (Piano)
Notes: Composition written: Russia (1874 - 1875).
Concerto for Piano no 2 in G major, Op. 44 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Gary Graffman (Piano)
Written: 1879-1880; Russia
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Great music by Graffman July 18, 2013
By Norman O. (Northglenn, CO) See All My Reviews
"This selection with Szell, Ormandy and Graffman has long been on my want list. Reviewers have more many years given high marks to these interpretations in such magazines as Stereo Review, Fanfare, American Record Guide, etc. you won't be disappointed with this set!"
"Pure Gold" August 23, 2012
By Gregory W. (Hinckley, OH) See All My Reviews
"That's how the New York Times reviewed the performance of Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto by George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra w/Gary Graffman. Listen to this recording and you'll see why. Graffman's performances throughout are ringingly recorded. Szell and company provide a splendid, well articulated backing. Graffman's rendition of Balakirev's Islamey is one for the ages. Unreservedly recommended."