More Brilliant Recordings Rescued From The Vaults
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 01/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Well the Universal Music Group made good on its promise to release Volume 2 of pianist Clifford Curzon's rare Decca Recordings (from 1941-1972) as part of its second batch of limited edition boxed sets in the "Original Masters" series. While I am delighted that Volume 2 has been made available, unfortunately it is a bit of let down after Volume 1. My reasons are many, but mostly have to do with the fact that the majority of performances are of solo and chamber works, and that the set only contains four concerto recordings, all in mono, compared with seven on Volume 1. Curzon recorded Mozart's 23rd and 24th Concertos with Josef Krips in 1953, but then re-recorded them in stereo with Istvan Kertesz (available on a Decca Legends title) largely because he was unhappy with this initial result. After all the years of reading why these recordings were never released, I can now hear it for myself. Also, while the Brahms PC No. 1 (with van Beinum from 1953) and the Grieg (Fistoulari, 1951) are better in terms of their performances, Curzon's stereo remakes with Szell and Fjeldstad respectively just sound so much better than these mono accounts (see my review of the latter, which by the way is quickly going out-of-print). The solo works -- Schubert's Four Impromptus, D899 (1941) and Piano Sonata, D960 (1970), and Brahms' Piano Sonata No. 3 and two Intermezzos (both 1962) -- are impressive but I already have multiple renditions of these works by other celebrated pianists, and I personally don't collect solo music the way I do orchestral works. The same goes for the two 1962 Dvorak and Franck Piano Qunitet performances that comprise the whole of Disc Four. In all, it is an excellent set for collectors, but most of us would have been happy to buy one 8CD set (like the DG "Original Masters" Fricsay and Markevitch sets -- see my reviews) instead of these two little ones."