Russian Music from Columbia LPs of the 1950s (Part II)
Rubinstein - Concerto No. 4 in D minor for Piano and Orchesra, Op. 70 - Oscar Levant, Piano / New York Philharmonic / Dimitri Mitropoulos
Tchaikovsky - Francesca da Rimini, Symphonic Fantasia, Op. 32 - Khachaturian - Masquerade Suite (Music For Lermontov's Play "Masquerade") - New York Philharmonic / Leopold Stokowski
Prokofiev - Lieutenant Kije Suite, Op. 60 - Shostakovich - Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47 - New York Philharmonic / Dimitri Mitropoulos
The transfers of Francesca da Rimini and the Masquerade Suite are new. In contrast to the transfers previously uploaded, they were made (as are the majority of other mono transfers uploaded recently) with a needle specially cut for mono recordings. The other difference is that this time, only very minimal equalization has been employed - as with the other recordings offered here - the single exception being Mitropoulos' intensely riviting performance Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony upon which no equalization was performed. The aim, once again, is to preserve as much of the original ambience as possible.
In retrospect, Oscar Levant is frequently closely associated with the music of George Gershwin - and rightly so (both the composer and pianist having been fairly close friends). However, there were other dimensions to Levant's art, and the mid-1950s recording of Rubinstein's Fourth Piano Concerto (once a staple of the repertoire) has long stood out in this listener's mind as one of the most satisfying ones. Levant's reading is warm, sympathetic and above all eloquent, leaving almost nothing further to be desired. And it practically goes without saying that Mitropoulos is the ideal partner for Levant. From all sides, this is simply a beautiful recording.
LP transfers of material recorded c. 1951; between the mid- and late 1950's (Columbia).