CD Selections
10:46 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Jill Pasternak Recommends...

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 in d minor, op. 30
Vladimir Horowitz, piano
The New York Philharmonic; Eugene Ormandy, conductor

It's not often that we re-discover or even newly discover treasures that are hidden in our libraries, but this one is irresistible and undeniably the most exciting recording of one of the most technically demanding works in the piano repertoire - Sergei Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto.

In 1996, the film Shine was made based on a supposedly true story of a pianist who had a psychotic breakdown because he was unable to master the difficulties of this work. The film was an artistic success, and it also drew attention to the Concerto, which became a popular vehicle for the currently hot "piano virtuosi du jour." And indeed, those performances were impressive. But...the 1978 live concert with Vladimir Horowitz and Eugene Ormandy conducting the New York Philharmonic tops them all!

This re-mastered disc is stupendous. It opens up new worlds of sound and features the original first movement cadenza, which only Rachmaninoff played and Horowitz insisted on using. There were notations by the composer and alternate parts in the last movement, which Rachmaninoff omitted as did Horowitz, and which Horowitz maintained were almost unplayable except by the composer whose hand span was so large. "I prepared for the concert as if I was learning the work anew and steeped myself in Russian music," Horowitz said."

This concerto was for many years an almost exclusive vehicle for Horowitz, who had the opportunity to rehearse the work with the composer before his 1928 New York debut. At that time, Rachmaninoff declared unequivocally that Horowitz had "...conquered the whole work." More than 50 years later, I think you'll agree.--Jill