Robert Casadesus

Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 24 KV 491 & No. 26 KV 537 "Coronation"; Weber: Konzertstück Op. 79

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Admirers of Robert Casadesus and George Szell will be prepared for this CD's historical quality, and they may not mind the mono reproduction and the faulty sound as long as the performances of Mozart's K. 491 and K. 537 are satisfactory. That they are, and important parts of the performers' record, because the period of these Mozart recordings and Weber's Konzertstück -- 1952-1954 -- marks the early stage of Szell's and Casadesus' productive relationship with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra; many of their fine studio performances from the 1960s are available on Sony. This Urania release, however, is not as polished as the later Columbia recordings, due to the vicissitudes of live recording and the state of the original analog masters. Remastering has cleaned up much of the tape hiss, but dimmed the higher end of the audio range, so the orchestra's sound is somewhat squashed down and occasionally honky in the winds' middle register. Also, some flaws in the tape -- such as crimping, stretching, and splicing -- are quite noticeable, despite the best efforts of preservation. Yet this matters little since the interpretations are convincing, and the combination of Casadesus' elegant, fluid piano style with Szell's crisp direction is still quite appealing, despite the sound problems.

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