Pale and distant sound
Leslie Richford | Selsingen, Lower Saxony | 10/17/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"What makes this Naxos CD susceptible to being marked down is, in the first instance, the recorded sound, which is pale and rather distant and has the effect of nullifying any enthusiasm that the musicians may have brought to the recording sessions. The Piano Concerto is played comparatively rapidly, and Joseph Banowetz, while demonstrating his virtuoso abilities with regard to moving his fingers over the keyboard, seems (to me, at any rate) to fail to differentiate between the differing moods that the music would have been able to evoke if only he had varied his tempi somewhat. A comparison with the equally low-priced 1983 digital recording with Viktoria Postnikova and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra under Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (on Decca) makes it plain that this music has so much more intensity, so much more color, so much more in the way of variety and message than Banowetz/Lénard are able to conjure up.
Tchaikovsky's 'Tempest' after Shakespeare is an evocative piece that is here played acceptably by the CSR Symphony Orchestra, but again the pale, somewhat cavernous sound fails to do the performance justice. And the excerpts from 'Eugen Onegin' just do not bear comparison with the recently re-released version by the Berlin Philharmonic directed by Herbert von Karajan (1972, Deutsche Grammophon)."