Amazon.com essential recording
Just what was the Leonard Bernstein phenomenon all about? This disc–part of Sony's ongoing series of reissued performances from the conductor's years with the New York Philharmonic–goes a long way toward recapturing at least two aspects of his protean musical career. Bernstein's astonishing powers of communication as both conductor and teacher permeate this account of the landmark Eroica Symphony (recorded in one day in 1964 under legendary producer John McClure); filling out the disc is a lengthy excerpt from his broadcast discussion of the work, "How a Great Symphony Was Written." The charismatic rapport between Bernstein and his New York colleagues crackles with live-wire intensity. Throughout, the sense of excitement in bringing Beethoven's untamable profusion of ideas to life is unjaded…
Record of American conductor, pianist and composer Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) leading the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in a work dedicated to the great French composer J. Maurice Ravel. Bernstein was one of the largest and most popular directors, one of the most powerful composers and a talented pianist of the last century. Gained fame over a long career of nearly five decades, marked with an endless list of awards, medals and other honors. He led the New York Philharmonic (one of the five major American symphony orchestras) between 1958 and 1969.
Rudolf Serkin's 1964 recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto in C minor is surely among the greatest recordings of the work ever made, and certainly his finest performance of the work. The energy and enthusiasm and even passion he brings to Concerto in C minor is overwhelming, and indeed, it overwhelms Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, who accompany Serkin with the sort of commitment that only a conductor and orchestra give to soloists when they are deeply inspired. But while Serkin's 1962 recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto in E flat major is also surely among the greatest recordings of the work ever made, it is not quite Serkin's finest recording of the work.
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev has established himself as one of the most dynamic and virtuosic performers of his generation, and his program on this RCA album with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic is ideally suited to his extraordinary abilities. The pairing of Sergey Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor and George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is a natural one, particularly because of the works' shared post-romanticism (note Rachmaninov's influence on Gershwin's slow theme in the Rhapsody), as well as for the dazzling writing for the piano in both works. Of course, the challenge for Matsuev is to make his part appear effortless, and he succeeds so well in both performances that listeners may be a bit blasé about his playing, taking it in without really considering what knuckle-busters these pieces really are.