GRIEG: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16. SCHUMANN: Piano Concerto in
A Minor, Op. 54.
SEARLE: Symphony No. 1. Symphony No. 2.
Three more major releases from the private label Locked in the Vault.
Leon Fleisher's 1960 Epic recordings of piano concertos of Grieg and
Schumann has been recognized as among the finest performances of each
work, with Fleisher at his virtuoso peak but always sensitive to the
big romantic episodes of both concertos. The support from Szell and the
Cleveland Orchestra could not be bettered. These performances have been
available previously on CD, but in mediocre transfers. Now we have this
LITV issue made from an Epic open-reel tape—and it is magnificent sonically.
Fleisher's incandescent playing is now revealed in stunning clarity,
with a solidity in the bass lacking in all previous issues,
than the original stereo LP which doubtless had to attenuate bass to
get both works onto a single disk. Even if you have other recordings
of these concertos you should also own
collaborations now available in pristine sound—and if you have previous
CD issues of the Fleisher/Szell performances you can now find out what
they really sound like.
The third CD is devoted to music of Humphrey Searle (1915-1982), a fascinating unjustly neglected British composer who was a contemporary of Benjamin Britten. Searle studied with Anton Webern and much of his writing reflects this serialist association. He also catalogued the complete music of Franz Liszt (the "S" identification of each of Liszt's works refers to this), and had a great sense of humor, participating in the famous Hoffnung Music Festivals. These recordings of his first two symphonies were recorded by Lyrita. One wonders how Josef Krips, known particularly for his Mozart, became involved in this project, but he did—and it works. All of Searle's symphonies have been recorded on cpo with Alun Francis and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; this LITV issue offers collectors the premiere recordings of the first two symphonies. Outstanding transfers, as always from LITV.
All of these are budget CDs. No program notes, but of course a complete track listing and basic information. There are many other fascinating issues on LITV. To order and for more information visit the LITV website: http://home.comcast.net/~litvr/
R.E.B. (September 2003)