Notes and Editorial Reviews
*** This title is a reissue of a Japanese release with liner notes in Japanese. ***
The young Peter Serkin's late-1960s RCA solo Mozart album sounds as fresh and individually compelling as it did four decades ago when I first acquired it as a double-LP set and wore it out within a year. Rare hints of wow and flutter betray the age of these excellent-sounding recordings, although I suspect that the Japanese RCA CDs Arkivmusic.com sourced for this "on-demand" release stem from production masters rather than first-generation session tapes.
Serkin simply is astonishing. He takes nearly 20 unprecedented minutes to get through the C minor Fantasia, yet his acute sense of continuity and shape make every
note count. While Serkin's tempos for the C minor sonata movements fall under relatively conventional parameters, you certainly can't call his supple passagework and lightly sprung rhythms ordinary. Similar technical control and polyphonic awareness inform the F major sonata and C major Fantasia and Fugue.
Some may find the D minor Fantasia overpointed and fussy, yet I feel Serkin's metric liberties are entirely in keeping with the music's improvisatory impulses. If the D major Rondo's main melody appears to flow more evenly to casual ears, that's because Serkin plays the ornaments before the beat. His leisurely, introspective unfolding of the A minor Rondo conveys a muted intensity that differs from his simpler, more forcefully-projected Pro Arte remake from the mid-'80s. This is a release to cherish, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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