FREIRE UNFETTERS TCHAIKOVSKY'S FIRST
Melvyn M. Sobel | Freeport (Long Island), New York | 11/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If the thought of hearing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 23 for the hundredth time sends you scurrying into the woodwork; if even the hint of having to listen to yet another mundane rendition of this hoary warhorse has you anxiety-ridden; if even reading this sentence--- long as it is--- has you sweating.... well, take heart.
From his thunderous, breathtaking chordal entry into the first movement, Freire takes complete command, mounts this monumental work and kick-spurs revelatory new life into it. With a recording that is happily weighted in favor of Freire's piano, we finally get to hear ALL the notes--- each and every one--- bell-like and magnificent--- the dust literally blown away. Amazing pianism this, and all within minutes! The first time I heard this recording--- some thirty years ago--- I couldn't believe my ears; I still can't. And it has remained my favorite to this day.
As unbridled as Freire is in the pyrotechnical aspects of Concerto No. 1--- and I mean unbridled in the most superlative sense of the word, as the pianist's "technique" is always at the service of the music--- he is equally sensitive to the melancholy Russian elements inherent in the score. Listen to the way he handles the exquisite nature of the Andantino Semplice second movement. His delicacy of touch, the pearl-like runs and dancing figurations silence criticism.
The last movement Allegro gathers whirlwind momentum as Freire, Kempe and the MPO ride out together in a stunning--- no, make that, staggering!--- powerhouse finale. It will leave you ecstatic.
As far as overall sound is concerned, frankly I have no problem here. With pianism such as Freire's, one hardly notices the orchestral accompaniment. For the most part, as written, the orchestra is subservient to the piano, anyway--- probably as Tchaikovsky intended.
Zuckerman's traversal of the Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 (with Dorati and the LSO) is a perfectly acceptable companion; but unlike the Piano Concerto, it's nothing to write home about.
The sole reason to own this CD is Freire.
Essential Tchaikovsky! Incredible pianism!
[Running time: 66:19]"
Fine budget Tchaikovsky
J. Buxton | Waltham, MA United States | 05/06/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The piano concerto on this disc suffers from poor sound quality, which I assume is why CBS/Sony chose to distribute it at budget price. Friere's playing is quite good, but the 1968 recording in Munich lacks warmth and balance. The violin concerto, also recorded in 1968, fares much better. Although the sound is almost too bright in some spots (keep your hand close to the volume dial), overall it is acceptable. Zukerman's playing is very accomplished and the LSO under Dorati seem comfortable. Zukerman opts to cut out a few bars here and there in the third movement, which had become traditional to do until relatively recently. There are a few moments where the soloist is not quite in sync with the orchestra (near the end of the third movement), and although this is a pity it is still a fine budget version of this wonderful concerto. Oistrakh with Ormandy and the Philadelphians on Sony Essential Classics would still be my first choice for this violin concerto (also coupled with a fine piano concerto with Gilels and Mehta/NYPO)."