Arthur Rubinstein shouldn’t be the only Chopin pianist in your collection, but he should probably be the first. His stereo RCA recordings of Chopin were always elegant and poetic, aptly expressive without being either under-characterized or willful. His Chopin concerto recordings in the Living Stereo series—the First from 1961, the Second from 1958—remain wonderful representations of these two not entirely characteristic Chopin works.
Rubinstein’s performances here are full of gently sparkling lyricism. In the first concerto, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski’s accompaniment is slow to take off, but it eventually provides the needed support.Read more The underrated Alfred Wallenstein, in contrast, provides the partnership you’d expect from the otherwise admirable Skrowaczewski, with abundant nuance. Why, though, does he ignore Chopin’s inventive ponticello effect during one string passage in the finale?
The London orchestra, whatever its real name was, stretches through a more open acoustic than the Symphony of the Air, which seems smaller, tighter, and more closely recorded, although the SACD layer does open up the sonics to some degree. For that reason, this is the version of this recording to have.
FANFARE: James Reel
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players. Read less
SACD remastering rocksAugust 18, 2013By Robert Abbott (Louisville, KY)See All My Reviews"I had the original Living Stereo LP and loved it for Rubenstein's patrician interpretation. Now comes SACD. I am listening to it now on my Marantz SA 8004 SACD player and HiFiMan HE 500 headphones. It is concert hall quality. The orchestral detail and ambience are just perfect. The best thing, though, is the miking of the piano, which is up close and yet well balanced with the orchestra. Don't know if that was the original miking or whether the re-mastering to SACD did it. Whatever is is, it is great for piano enthusiasts who want to hear every note and nuance by Rubenstein. Hooray for SACD! Wish there were lots more remakes of clear classic performances. Listeners without SACD playing equipment may not enjoy all the above. My wife says it still soulnds like a 1950's recording on her boombox in the barn. What can I say?"Report Abuse
Rubinstein's Chopin in Living StereoDecember 16, 2011By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH)See All My Reviews"Rubinstein recorded the Chopin Concertos numerous times. This version of Chopin's first Concerto is particularly successful, partly thanks to the sensitive accompaniment of the New London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. Tempos are well-judged, phrasing is supple and natural, virtuosity is there, but not for its own sake. The sound on the original LP and the first CD issue was plagued by dropouts at the beginning of the Concerto--these have been smoothed over remarkably. Balance between orchestra and piano has also been improved. The Second Concerto is somewhat less successful. Here, Rubinstein is partnered by Alfred Wallenstein, his favored accompanist during the 1950s and early 1960s. Wallenstein secures reasonable playing from the Symphony of the Air, then long past its earlier glory as the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Purists should be warned that, at Rubinstein's insistence, the violins do not play "sui ponticello" as Chopin indicated in the last movement. Rubinstein's playing is fine, but the overall enjoyment of the performance is hampered by the sonic picture, which remains synthetic and dryish--despite the best efforts at SACD remastering. The later version with Ormandy is to be preferred over this one."Report Abuse
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