GREGOR PIATIGORSKY - THE ART OF THE CELLO
Complete RCA and Columbia recordings.
SONY 19075832132 (36 disks)
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The legendary Gregor Piatigorsky, often referred to as "the greatest string player of all time,," is featured on this important issue that contains all of his Columbia and RA rewordings, many of which have never before appeared on CD. Born in the Ukraine in 1903, right from the beginning, Piuatigorsky was acclaimed for his rich sound and technical expertise. Initially he gave chamber music performances in Moscow and when only 15 Wilhelm Furtwängler appointed him principal cellist of the Berlin Philharmonic. Throughout his long career he gave numerous concerts with orchestra ,and in chamber music, collaborating with many leading artists in the latter. His early performance of Don Quixote was praised by Richard Strauss who stated, "finally I have heard my Don Quixote as I imagined him.!"

In 1940 Piatigorsky recorded Saint-Saëns' Concerto No. 1 with Frederick Stock and and the Chicago Symphony, He would make a second recording of this work in 1956 with Fritz Reiner and the RCA Orchestra. Piatigorsky made his first recording of the Dvorak Concerto (along with Bruch's Kol Nidrei) with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1947. He would record it again in1960 with Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony. Piatigorsky made two recordings of Don Quixote, the first in 1941 with Fritz Reiner and the Pittsburgh Symphony, the second in 1953 with Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony.

A major event was the Walton Concerto. Piatigorsky commissioned this and gave the premiere in Boston with Munch in 1956 and it was recorded at that time. During the same sessions, Bloch's Shelomo was recorded, a magnificent performance indeed. It seems odd that the famed cellist made so few recordings with orchestra, in particular the Elgar concerto.

This set also includes all of Piatigorsky's chamber music recordings in which he collaborated with Jascha Heifetz Arthur Rubinstein, William Primrose, Leonard Pennario, and many others. Chamber music at its very best, undeed!

All of these recordings have been remastered, with excellent audio. Each dis has the cover of the original LP release as well as complete program notes, although because of the reduction in size, they might be difficult to read. These illustrations will bring back many memories for old-time collectors. This is a budget-priced set, essential for those who love this noble instrument. You might also wish to investigate the few Piatigorsky performances available on other labels, as well as videos and You Tube.

R.E.B. (November 2018)