Rubinstein recorded the Chopin Concertos numerous times. This version of Chopin's first Concerto is particularly successful, partly thanks to the sensitive accompaniment of the New London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. Tempos are well-judged, phrasing is supple and natural, virtuosity is there, but not for its own sake. The sound on the original LP and the first CD issue was plagued by dropouts at the beginning of the Concerto--these have been smoothed over remarkably. Balance between orchestra and piano has also been improved.
The Second Concerto is somewhat less successful. Here, Rubinstein is partnered by Alfred Wallenstein, his favored accompanist during the 1950s and early 1960s. Wallenstein secures reasonable playing from the Symphony of the Air, then long past its earlier glory as the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Purists should be warned that, at Rubinstein's insistence, the violins do not play "sui ponticello" as Chopin indicated in the last movement. Rubinstein's playing is fine, but the overall enjoyment of the performance is hampered by the sonic picture, which remains synthetic and dryish--despite the best efforts at SACD remastering. The later version with Ormandy is to be preferred over this one.