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Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Although RCA's 1954 Rubinstein/Reiner Brahms First Concerto originally appeared in mono, an experimental stereo version surfaced in the late 1970s, offering a fuller, more three-dimensional sonic experience. The two-track source tape sounded even better in its 24-bit transfer for RCA's 1999 complete Rubinstein edition. On SACD, you perceive further ambient clarity and a sense of air between the notes, where the anguished trills in the first movement and full-throated sonorities from the Chicago Symphony's superb brass players truly hit home. Indeed, I've always loved this performance chiefly for its orchestral distinction and for Reiner's
forward-moving, disciplined leadership. Note, for example, the gorgeous euphony of the woodwinds in the slow movement, or the sharp profile and delineation with which Reiner shapes and balances the fugato in the finale. Rubinstein's heartfelt affinity and mastery of Brahms' burly piano writing is never in doubt, although the pianist's remake 10 years later with Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony benefits from his greater introspection and expressive simplicity in the first movement's lyrical second theme and the entirety of the slow movement. All told, the volatile Rubinstein/Reiner Brahmsian chemistry holds its own after more than half a century. Let's hope their Rachmaninov Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody collaborations will appear on SACD before too long. [2/15/2005]
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Piano no 1 in D minor, Op. 15 by Johannes Brahms
Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1854-1858; Germany
Date of Recording: 1954
Venue: Live Orchestra Hall, Chicago
Length: 46 Minutes 20 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 3 Customer Reviews )
A Masterful Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 November 10, 2016
By owen ryan (lakewood, CA) See All My Reviews
"Interestingly Brahms first conceived of this work as a symphony only to abandon it and later revising it to create this concerto. Arthur Rubinstein's first appearance on the concert stage was to perform this work. For the next half century Rubinstein was known for his virtuosity with this masterwork. In this collaboration with the great Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra we have a memorable performance recorded in that wonderful RCA Living Stereo sound remastered for this SACD. Since Sony has discontinued this line, I urge you to get it while it is still available."
Perfect February 20, 2013
By Nancy W. (Manchester, NH) See All My Reviews
"This is really an outstanding CD in every way. Rubinstein's performance is simply marvelous, combining the forcefulness that this young Brahms composition requires, with his usual blend of smooth phrasing and subtle unobtrusive rubato. Reiner provides spirited support with his excellent orchestra. And sound quality is extraordinary for such an early stereo recording. I do not have a super audio player so I cannot comment on that. But sound from the standard stereo layer is very good, even on my portable CD player with headphones. Several things stand out on this CD, besides the excellent overall performances by Rubinstein and Reiner, and the very good sound. - Some pianists play the second movement adagio quite slowly, Gileles for example. Played too slowly, this can really put you to sleep. Even Serkin plays it in a rather slow manner. But Rubinstein usually plays slow movements fairly quickly, and this is true on this recording as well. He just makes it more interesting and part of the flow of the music, instead of the dismal interlude that it can be otherwise. - There is plenty of rich bass on this recording. Older recordings can be thin and tinny, but not this one. That is especially important in Brahms work, as Brahms himself specified. - Some recordings of this work have volume extremes from the nearly inaudible to the ear splitting, and require juggling of the volume control. But not this recording, which maintains a steady volume. So... wonderful composition, excellent vigorous performances, very well recorded, with a superb Soundmirror remaster, and quite reasonably priced. A very pleasant and impressive listen. You really can't do a classical CD release any better than this."
Brahms Without the Beard December 16, 2011
By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews
"The Brahms D minor Concerto is a difficult work to pull off successfully: the piano part is ungrateful, and often drowned out by an overorchestrated accompaniment. Also, many pianists--most notably Glenn Gould--tend to drag the tempos beyond all reason. Rubinstein, who was ten years old when Brahms died, would never have considered such a nonsensical approach. The Concerto was written early in Brahms career, and was the work of a passionate young man. In essence, Brahms without the beard. This is the first stereo recording, taped in 1954, to be made of this Concerto. (The stereo version, however, was not released until 1977). It says something for the original producer, RCA's legendary Jack Pfeiffer, that with SACD remastering the sound holds up very well. The performance is excellent also, with superb accompaniment from Reiner, the very antithesis of the dragged out, boring approach that has recently tested concert audiences' endurance. Although over a half century old, this is still one of the very few "essential" recordings for any Brahms collection, along with the Fleischer/Szell and Serkin/Szell performances. It would have been nice if RCA included some of the solo Brahms pieces Rubinstein recorded in 1959 (they were also part of the Living Stereo series), as this disc is not well filled. But for those who prefer quality over quantity, this disc is a must."