Gary Graffman

Tchaikovsky: The Three Piano Concertos

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The recordings American pianist Gary Graffman made in the '60s and '70s were widely admired in their time for their interpretive clarity and muscular virtuosity. But after Graffman hurt his right hand and was forced to retire from performing in 1979, his reputation slowly dwindled, and most of his recordings were out of print by the end of the LP era. Very few of Graffman's recordings have been reissued on CD, but this generously filled two-disc set of Russian music goes some way toward filling the void. Although Graffman's bravura 1969 recording of Tchaikovsky's First Concerto with George Szell leading the Cleveland Orchestra was once briefly released on CD, the remainder of the recordings are fresh to CD. This includes not only Graffman's thrilling recordings of Tchaikovsky's Second and Third Concerto with Eugene Ormandy leading the Philadelphia Orchestra, both made in a single session in 1965, but also his staggering 1962 recordings of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Balakirev's Islamey. Graffman's Pictures rivals Richter's in its commanding power and his Islamey challenges Cziffra's in its unrelenting intensity. Anyone who loves great piano playing will want to hear this disc. Sony's remastering of the excellent stereo originals is open and honest.

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