CHOPIN: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23. Ballade No. 2 in F, Op. 38. Ballade No. 3 in A flat, Op. 47. Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52. 24 Preludes, Op. 28.
Arthur Rubinstein, piano

DEBUSSY: Preludes, Books 1 and 2
Walter Gieseking, piano

DOHNÁNYI: Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 21. Four Rhapsodies, Op. 11. Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 42.
Erno Dohnányi, piano; Royal Philharmonic Orch/Sir Adrian Boult, cond.

MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection.
Emilia Cundari, soprano; Maureen Forrester, contralto; Westminster Choir/New York Philharmonic/Bruno Walter, cond.

Here are some major reissues to delight collectors. Arthur Rubinstein's 1959 RCA stereo recording of the four Chopin ballades made in Manhattan Center is surely among the finest ever made of these popular piano masterpieces. Rubinstein was 73 at the time but had lost none of his virtuosity, range of sonorities and energy. Almost a decade ago, RCA issued these four works on SACD, coupled with the four scherzi, improving on the original—but Pristine improves it even more. Even more important is the mono recording of the Preludes, Op. 28, recorded on 78 rpm disks June 11, 18 and 25, 1946 in an RCA New York studio. This is Rubinstein's only recording of the complete preludes, a marvel of variety and virtuosity—the master at his best. Apparently remastering of the preludes was a challenge to Andrew Rose but he has succeeded in improving the sound of this vintage recording and added a touch of ambient stereo that is highly effective. Of equal interest is Walter Gieseking's EMI recording of Debussy's Preludes made in August 12-16, 1953 (Book I) and December 9-10, 1954, in Abbey Road Studio 3. Ever since their release these perfect performances have been acclaimed as definitive, and for good reason. And now we hear them in transcendent XR remnasteriung that gives a wider range of color and shading, along with impressive dynamic range. This is magic on the piano. Don't miss it!

Hungarian composer, pianist, teacher and conductor Ernö Dohnányi (1877-1960) had a remarkable career in all of these ventures. As a conductor, he championed music of Bartók whom he first met in 1894 when both were students at the Budapest Academy. As a pianist, he toured often as soloist with orchestras, concerts and chamber music. His first marriage produced two children, one of whom, Hans born in 1902, later was father of the famous Christoph, distinguished conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. A bit of intrigue: he fell in love with a German actress, but she was married to the famous violinist Bronislaw Huberman; they had a son and later, when legally possible, they married. Seventeen years later, when separated from wife number two, Erno fell in love with another married woman whom he eventually married. As a conductor, he was music director of the Budapest Philharmonic from 1918-1943. His students included Andor Foldes, Ervin Nyiregházi, Annie Fischer, Georg Solti, and Georges Cziffra. And as a composer, Dohnányi wrote some delightful music. His Suite for Orchestra is a charmer, available in many recordings including a Chandos disk conducted by Matthias Bamert (REVIEW). Quite a career indeed, but today Dohnányi is remembered most for his delightful Variations on a Nursery Tune written in 1914, fifteen years after the first of his two piano concerto. Pristine surely has done their bit for admirers of Dohnányi; they already have issued Mark Obert-Thorn's fine transfers of the three Brahms sonatas, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17, his 1931 recording of Variations with the London Symphony conducted by Lawrance Collingwood, and a number of orchestral performances. This new release offers his violin sonata recorded in 1952 which he is joined by Albert Spaulding, the four rhapsodies of Op. 11 recorded the following year, and the Piano Concerto No. 2 with Boult and the Royal Philharmonic. recorded in 1956, the same sessions that produced Dohnányi's second recording of Variations. Dohnányi's music is always well crafted and pleasant, but not always memorable. The piano pieces of Op. 11 suggest Rachmaninoff, the second concerto goes on too long for its content. Quite a bit of bravura display that amounts to little. No question that these performance are what the composer intended. and surely these are of historic interest.

this site mentioned a reissue of Bruno Walter's performance of Mahler's Resurrection from a Carnegie Hall broadcast Feb. 17, 1957 (REVIEW). The final two movements of the performance on this new Pristine issue of a Columbia recording were recorded at the time, the remainder of the symphony about a year later, fortunately all taped in Carnegie Hal. ArkivMusic lists a live Walter/Vienna Philharmonic recording from a concert in 1948, and also lists the Feb. 17 broadcast, which had a different soprano (Maria Cebotari), replaced by Emilia Cundari in the recording. I actually attend one of the February 1957 concerts, traveling from my native Chicago to New York just for the event. As I recall, it was a stupendous concert marred only by an unbelievable happening: at the hushed choral opening in the finale, a woman in the middle of the second row center on the main floor of Carnegie Hall decided to leave, and noisily climbed over others in the row! Talk about a mood breaker!! Audiences! I guess they are a necessity. This recording, made in the early days of stereo about more than a half-century ago, has been amazingly revitalized by XR remasterig. It is clearer now, has extended dynamic range, and the important organ now is heard with power and impact. An outstanding reissue, indeed!

R.E.B. (June 2013)