LEONTYNE PRICE REDISCOVERED
VLADIMIR HOROWITZ REDISCOVERED
SVIATSLAV RICHTER REDISCOVERED
These three releases are, to me, the most intriguing in RCA's recent "Rediscovered" series. Any unissued recording of Leontyne Price is of interest; her CD supposedly contains the entire Carnegie Hall debut recital of February 28, 1965. It's rather difficult to believe this CD contains everythingincluding encores the total playing time is about 66 minutes; a recital surely would be longer than that. But what is here is superb, a wide-ranging program beginning with Handel and Brahms, continuing with an aria from Andrea ChÈnier, songs of Samuel Barber and Lee Hoiby, then four spirituals and the usual encores one would expect at a Price concert. The excitement of the occasion is apparent, audience enthusiasm high but fortunately curtailed on the CD. Of course the operatic selections are less effective with piano accompaniment (the able David Garvey) than they are in Price's recordings with orchestra, the Rondine and Tosca arias recorded a few years later are available on BMG 68883. RCA has also issued "Leontyne Price Return to Carnegie Hall" recorded Jan. 26, 1991; she was 64 at the time and remains a phenomenon. Her legion of fans--and other lovers of the soprano voice surely will wish to have these 1965 performances. Sound quality is excellent.
Horowitz's commercial and live recordings have been issued and reissued, legally and illegally. RCA states "no part of this recital has ever been issues before in any format." There is only one work in this set that was not recorded commercially by Horowitz, Rachmaninoff's Etude-tableau in D, Op. 39 No. 9; all of the other pieces were recorded in the studio, many of them three times over the pianist's career, either for RCA or Columbia. Admirer's of the remarkable pianist doubtless will wish to have this set; the live concert recording is well engineered.
The Richter set is essential although he, too, has hardly been neglected by the CD medium. Virtually all of these recordings are previously unissued, recorded during a Carnegie Hall recital Dec. 26, 1960 and a concert in Mosque Theatre, Newark, two days later. The programs were the same, but encores were different; these two CDs contain all of the music from both concerts, beginning with a robust reading of the Haydn sonata. Prokofiev is one of the pianist's specialties, and this reading of the Sonata No. 6 is a powerhouse. It's remarkable how the Russian pianist can give a blockbuster performance of the Prokofiev sonata, yet be able to scale down appropriately for the imagery of Ravel and Debussy.
The pricing of these sets is confusing. The Leontyne Price CD costs about $17.00, the Horowitz 2-CD set costs about $19.00, the Richter about $31.00. Strange, indeed! Perhaps the fact that the Horowitz set is but seven minutes short of being able to be issued on a single CD has something to do with pricing on that set. All three releases have awkward packing. Both of the twin-CD sets have a twin jewel-box fold-out on either side with the booklet in the middle. As the booklet is permanently fastened to the center panel, in order to read it one must deal with the jewel boxes on either side. The Price set, with only one CD, still has the booklet glued insideall cumbersom at best. I'm curious what other treasures will be released in this series in the future.
R.E.B. (May 2003)