Notes and Editorial Reviews
Sony Classical is pleased to announce the first release of Alexander Brailowsky’s complete RCA Victor recordings, many of them never before available in the digital medium.
Born in 1896 in Kiev, Brailowsky studied at the conservatory in his native city, then part of the Russian empire. In 1911, he went to Vienna to become a pupil of the legendary Theodor Leschetizky, who taught many of the 20th century’s outstanding pianists. During World War I Brailowsky also studied with Busoni in Switzerland, and in 1919 made his debut in Paris. Five years later came his first appearance in New York where he settled, then making regular coast-to-coast tours of North America while continuing to visit Europe.
There was one
composer with whom Alexander Brailowsky was associated throughout his career – and has remained associated through recordings since his death in 1976: Frederic Chopin. Brailowsky was the first pianist to present Chopin’s entire 169 solo works as a cycle, performing this feat before capacity audiences in New York, Brussels, Zurich, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Paris. At the end of his 1938 Chopin series in New York, one reviewer noted that “there are few enough pianists who have the prodigious memory, the physical strength, the comprehensive technique required for such an undertaking; there are far fewer who have – plus all these – the requisite musicianship. Mr. Brailowsky is one of these latter few.”
Not surprisingly, Sony Classical’s new comprehensive reissue of Brailowsky’s RCA albums largely comprises music by Chopin. Both piano concertos are included – No. 1 with William Steinberg conducting the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra in 1949 and No. 2 with Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1954. High Fidelity later wrote of these two performances: “Brailowsky’s energetically contoured, sharply etched clarity represents an emerging modernity of outlook that points to present-day Chopin players.” The set also features Brailowsky’s two traversals of the Waltzes, as well as his complete recordings of the Etudes, Preludes, and Nocturnes, plus Sonatas Nos. 2 and 3, the Ecossaises, and Berceuse. Of Brailowsky’s Nocturnes recording, Gramophone’s reviewer wrote: “He could sing beautifully at the keyboard. His nocturnes as a whole have a touching humanity and simplicity … The mono RCA sound is quite velvety.” Read less
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