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Tchaikovsky / Dvorák: Piano Concertos


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Product Details


1. Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 23, In B-Flat Minor: I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso
2. Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 23, In B-Flat Minor: II. Andantino semplice
3. Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 23, In B-Flat Minor: III. Allegro con fuoco
4. Piano Concerto, Op. 33 in G Minor: I. Allegro agitato
5. Piano Concerto, Op. 33 in G Minor: II. Andante sostenuto
6. Piano Concerto, Op. 33 in G Minor: III. Finale: Allegro con fuoco

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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
One of the Very Best Tchaikovsky Firsts Dec 23 2004
By goodmusicman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It was very surprising when I discovered some less-than-enthusiastic reviews for this recording ( a negative one on classicstoday.com, and lukewarm reviews on classical.net, and right here on Amazon). I had long regarded it as one of the very best recordings of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto. Bernstein conducts the NY Philharmonic with his usual passion, emotion--but without overindulgence-- and his knack for creating great excitement. Pianist Phillipe Entremont accompanies with brilliant and fiery piano playing that, together with Bernstein's conducting, really captures the drama and struggle of this tempestuous warhorse. (Entremont has got to be one of the most underrated pianists of all time, especially after hearing this recording and his recordings of Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paginini and Grieg's Piano Concerto, both with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra on Sony Essential Classics). There are other great recordings of the Tchaikovsky, particularly Van Cliburn in strereo and Martha Argerich in digital, but none of them convey the granduer and heroism that Bernstein and Entremont bring to this performance, making this work sound more epic than any other recording. I was very pleased when I saw a very positive review of this recording on ArkivMusic.com. Please read that review as it complements mine. The sound quality, using 24 bit remastering (the best currently available), is extremely good, better than the other stereo recordings.
The Dvorak Piano Concerto is not up to par with Dvorak's greatest works (like his cello concerto) and I am not familiar with other recordings of the work, but this is a very good performance and has great sound. The concerto has many memorable Slavic tunes and is a worthy filler.
In sum, get this recording for the Tchaikovsky. You will not be disappointed.

After writing this review, I found a review in the Nov./Dec. 1999 American Record Guide that I will share here. Although they weren't enthusiastic about the Dvorak performance (and so I have left out those comments), what they say about the Tchaikovsky performance speaks for itself:

"To Entremont and Bernstein, this was not just another recording of a tired old warhorse. It was instead an event of near cosmic significance. Our July/August 1997 Tchaikovsky Overview applauded the "beautiful teamwork" that these two great performers display here. It's no wonder that we consider this recording to be "just right". Emotions are heightened as in no other version. The playing is full of wonder, and there's a sense of discovery at every turn. Each note matters. Entremont can thunder with the best of them, though his playing is never unpleasantly percussive. Then he can turn on a dime and melt your heart with a tender, touching phrase. [Movement] II, for example, has never sounded quite as lovely or enchanting. And Bernstein is with his mercurial soloist every step of the way, providing unprecedented color and intensity in the orchestral episodes. Moreover, the New York Philharmonic was on its very best behavior at the recording sessions. The thrilling sound of the brass and the incisive string attacks will lift you out of your seat more than once."
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
For Bernstein Fans Feb. 19 2001
By Michael B. Richman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This Benrstein Century CD coupling Tchaikovsky's and Dvorak's Piano Concertos is excellent, but really only for true Bernstein fans. The reason I say this is there are so many truly classic recordings available of Tchaikovsky's First Concerto by others -- Horowitz, Argerich, Richter and Cliburn to name a few -- that you would truly have to prefer Bernstein performances to all others to select this recording as your definitive version. Entremont's performance on piano is fine, but I have to give preference to any and all of the other four I mentioned above before this title. As far as the Dvorak Concerto goes, his composition for piano is not half the work that either his concertos for cello or violin are. And again, I prefer the Kleiber/Richter account on EMI Classics to this one by Bernstein and Frantz. In all, this recording is perfectly competent, but Bernstein fans would do themselves a service by diversifying their portfolios and selecting a performance by a different artist.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Tchaikovsky is a mismatch, but the Dvorak is a delight Feb. 19 2007
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
There's a bit of a mismatch here in the Tchaikovsky First, where Entremont sounds competent but Bernstein is really paying attention and giving us a distinguished orchestral reading. The meticulous Entremont wasn't a pianist with a heroic style, and he tends to fiddle around in the second movement after pretending to be a mini-Horowitz in the first. I guess this lack of virtuoso temperament was a selling point: the ultimate warhorse concerto was being taken seriously. But why? The Tchai First is a circus of a piece and works best that way. The NY Phil. is recorded on a grand scale here, but the piano sounds clattery, and pingy at the top. Four stars is generous for the overall effort.

Except in the Czech Republic, the sprawling Dvorak Piano Concerto will always be an after-thought, and few pianists ever add it to their repertoire. Audiences wouldn't be so impatient with this work, however, if they got to hear the kind of galvanizing, go-for-broke orchestral part that Bernstein provides. The music jumps with life, and the recording is fuller and more dynamic than that given to the Tchaikovsky. Justus Franz isn't Richter (to name the most famous virtuoso to take up the piece), but his playing is clean and tasteful; beyond that, he's having fun along with the conductor, which counts for a lot. I'd rate this the best performance I've ever heard. Five stars despite the work's weaknesses.


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