STRAVINSKY: L'historie du soldat. Violin Concerto in D. Jeux de cartes. Dumbarton Oaks - Concerto for Chamber Orchestra.
Samuel Dushkin, violin. Lamoureux Orch/ Stravinsky,. Berlin Philharmonic Orch/r Stravinsky. (Jeux de cartes). Dumnbarton Oaks Festival Orch/ Stravinsky.

VERDI: Rigoletto
Maria Callas (Gilda). Tito Gobbi (Rigoletto). Giuseppe di Stefanno (Duke of Mantua). Nicola Zaccaria (Sparafucile). Adriana Lazzarini (Maddalena). Plinio Clabassi (Monterone). Carlo Forti (Count Ceprano). La Scala Chorus and Orch/Tullio Serafin, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 131 (2 disks) TT: 1:57:57

LISZT: Gondoliera. Tarantella. At Lake Wallenstadt. Beside a Spring. The Bells of Geneva. Obermann's Valey. RUBINSTEIN: Etude No. 2, Op. 23. Piano Concerto No. 4 in D minor, Op. 70.
Grigory Ginsburg, piano/ State Symphonic Orchestra/A. Shereshevsky, cond.
MELODIYA CD 10 02067 TT: 76:20

This Stravinsky issue is of prime interest for collectors as it contains first CD issues of some of the composer's earliest recordings, for three different labels. Stravinsky began his recording career in 1925 when he conducted an inferior orchestra in Le sacre du printemps (reissued on Pristine (REVIEW). Stravinsky worked the first time with a major orchestra in February 1938 when he recorded Jeux de cartes with the Berlin Philharmonic for Telefunken. L'histoire du soldat was recorded in Paris for French Columbia May 6/7, 1932, the Violin Concerto October 28/29, 1935 for French Polydor. Dumbarton Oaks is a much later recording, May 28, 1947 made in New York for the small label Keynote. In 1938, Stravinsky and his son, Soulina, recorded the composer's Concerto for Two Pianos for French Columbia; the final side, oddly, was a Mozart Fugue (in C minor, K. 426). The Concerto has been issued on other labels, but the Mozart is a rarity. It wouldn't fit on the new Pristine CD so they are making it available as a free download from their site. Mark Obert-Thorn did his usual expert job on all of these transfers that sound remarkably clear for their era. A fascinating issue!

Maria Callas's famous 1955 EMI recording of Rigoletto is heard here in finest possible sound. The performance to some is legendary, and admirers of the famous soprano will be pleased. I find her emotional approach convincing, but even in 1955 Callas was not in total control of her voice; some of the singing is slightly off pitch (even with doubtless many retakes). However, otherwise this is a terrific performance, particularly Tito Gobbi's assumption of the title role. He is quite amazing, and it is a pleasure to hear Di Stefano as the Duke. As usual with Pristine's opera issues, no libretto is provided, but track listings are. If you treasure this performance, here it is in best sonic reprocessing, thanks to Andrew Rose.

Almost forgotten today, Jewish-born Russian pianist Grigory Ginsburg (1904-1961) was one of the greatest pianists from his country, although overshadowed by Emil Gilels, Sviatoslav Richter and Lazar Berman. He was praised for his virtuosity and solid musicianship, specializing in music of Liszt. He taught at the Moscow Conservatory and concretized primarily in Russia. Although he made a number of recordings for Melodiya, few are available today--this site reviewed an APR disk of varied repertory (REVIEW). This reissue is of particular importance. It contains six works by Liszt, and the unjustly neglected Piano Concerto No. 4 by Anton Rubinstein. Amazing playing throughout. No recording dates are provided, and it is unfortunate audio isn't better, but it does convey the performances. An important issue for pianophiles.

R.E.B. (March 2016)