Bruno Walter

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1; Romeo and Juliet; Mahler: Kindertotenlieder

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This Archipel reissue features Vladimir Horowitz and Bruno Walter performing Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, recorded in 1948. Horowitz was in top form, delivering a performance of unbridled panache, unrestrained passion, and unlimited virtuosity, and Walter leads the New York Philharmonic in an accompaniment that matches the soloist for power and propulsion. Although for sheer excitement, this performance is not quite in the same exalted league as Horowitz's 1941 recording with Toscanini, it deserves to be heard by any card-carrying fan of the pianist. Because of its astoundingly poor sound, this release should only be considered if none of the other of the multitude of reissues of this performance is available. Apparently lifted directly off of old records, the sound here is rough, tough, poppy, scratchy, and incredibly distant, as if the performance had taken place on one of Jupiter's moons and then relayed across space to Earth. The sound is even worse in Walter's virile 1942 recording with the Los Angeles Philharmonic of the Romeo and Juliet Overture, which has all the defects of the concerto recording, plus a cramped, gray acoustic environment. (For comparison, even Walter's heartbreaking 1949 recording with Kathleen Ferrier and the Wiener Philharmoniker of Mahler's Kindentotenlieder taped in postwar Vienna has less painful sound.)

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