SONY 88985404062 (75 disks)

Austrian pianist Rudolf Serkin (b. 1903) had an auspicious career early in Europe, making his concerto debut when only 12. After his American debut in 1936 with Arturo Toscanini and the New York Philharmonic, Serkin decided to move to the United States, where he gave many concerts and taught at the Curtis Institute, eventually becoming President of that organization. His career was marked by encompassing musicianship and technical security, and he had close associations with Alexander Schneider and the Busch String Quarter. Serkin recorded profusely, and this important set contains all of his Columbia ia recordings on 75 disks. Repertory focuses on the major concertos for the instrument, and he recorded a number of them multiple times: all are included here including Brahms Concerto No. 1 (Reiner, Szell, Ormandy), Brahms Concerto No. 2 (Ormandy, Szell), Beethoven concertos (Ormandy, Bernstein, Walter, Schneiderhan, ) and many Mozart concertos (Szell, Ormandy, Casals, Schneider). His few ventures into modern music included Strauss's Burlesque, Bartók's Concerto No. 1, and the Reger Piano Concerto. Unlike most pianists, he avoided Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky. Serkin recorded many staples of the solo repertory, particularly sonatas by Beethoven and Schubert, and chamber music as well. Chopin seemed not to interest him, although he did record the Preludes, and there is a live Danish recording of two of the Etudes. All of this is handsomely presented with original LP jackets and notes and an accompanying booklet. For the serious collector, this is an essential issue offering many previously unavailable recordings by one of the great pianists, with the latest digital technical technology that offers best sound available.

R.E.B. (September 2017)