Géza Anda -- the Hungarian pianist who performed with Furtwängler, studied with Fischer, and partnered with Haskil -- would still be celebrated even without those considerable accomplishments. Why? Because of his sublime mid-'60s recordings of Mozart's piano concertos: few players then and fewer players since succeeded so completely in conveying the virtuosic brilliance, the emotional depth, and the compositional excitement of those works. While he was busy recording Mozart's concertos, however, Anda also taped Grieg's Piano Concerto in 1964 with Rafael Kubelik leading the Berlin Philharmonic. It was an inspired choice all round. Grieg's Concerto matched Anda with its ardent tone, strong harmonies, and eternally lovely melodies, and Kubelik and the Berlin Philharmonic matched Anda with their singing tone, flexible ensemble, and fabulous feel for color. Anda conquers the opening Allegro molto moderato's cadenzas, seduces the central Adagio and especially the closing Allegro moderato's second theme, and rides out in a burst of glory in the final triumphant climaxes. All by itself, Anda's performance makes this disc worthwhile -- which is a good thing since the rest of the performances on this disc are fairly dreadful. Recorded in 1972, Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic's performances of Grieg's two Suites from Peer Gynt are big, slick, and smooth, with a maximum of conducting technique and orchestral polish and a minimum of musical passion and human warmth. Deutsche Grammophon's stereo sound was clear, detailed, and vivid in its days and it's still terrific in this 1998 digital reissue.
Grieg: Concerto pour piano; Peer Gynt Review
by James Leonard