There must be folks out there who will greet the arrival of this previously unreleased recording of a live performance of Tchaikovsky's venerable First Piano Concerto performed by the young Philippe Entremont and the old Pierre Monteux leading the London Symphony with hurrahs and hosannas, folks who recall Entremont's Columbia recording of the work with pleasure and who have always wondered what a live performance would sound like. This 2004 Cascavelle release of Entremont and Monteux's 1958 performance will answer that question. In a word, it's better. Entremont seems more powerful, more assertive, more virtuosic, even more reckless here, tearing into the toughest parts with passionate enthusiasm but a still finely polished technique. Monteux is a confident and assured accompanist who elicits strong and committed playing from the LSO that supports Entremont even when the pianist yields to the temptation to grandstand in the opening movement's coda. For many, perhaps most folks, there may be at least a dozen recordings of the concerto that will take priority over this one -- Horowitz's with Toscanini, Richter's with Karajan, perhaps even Cliburn's with Kondrashin -- but for folks who have at least a dozen recordings of the work, including Entremont's Columbia recording, this one will make interesting listening. Cascavella's live sound is dry and hard but honest.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23|