SERGEI RACHMANINOV - PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2, OP.18 - SVIATOSLAV RICHTER (Piano) - STANISLAW WISLOCKI (Conductor) -
WARSAW PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA - 028944742022 - DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 447420
Proof of the quality and stature of this recording lies in the fact that it is still on the market today.
The recording was done way back in 1959, but as far as I know, it has always been active in the Deutsche Grammophon
catalogue, first as a vinyl LP, then cassette, and now CD, and in all that time has never been unavailable.
Everytime I listen to this performance, what amazes me the most is Richter's capacity for clear articulation
and detail, even in the fastest segments of the concerto. In some other recordings, you can make out groups of
notes in some of the faster passages, but here under Richter, every note is audible and clear. Richter is also
great at bringing out the extremes in this concerto, from deep sorrow to exhilaration, from the quietest pianissimos
to thundering crescendos. I'm surprised the piano was still standing after the recording session.
The filler (if you can call it that) on this disc, is a performance of Tchaikovsky's 1st piano concerto, again
with Richter at the piano, but this time the conductor is Herbert von Karajan. Had this been in the same class
as the Rachmaninov, this CD would be listed on the Definitive Recordings page, but unfortunately it's as if both Richter
and Karajan were trying to be overly polite with the music, too polished and clean, so it doesn't have the
same raw power and life affirming energy that the Rachmaninov conveys.
But as far as the Rach 2 is concerned, you can't get any better. A perfect mix of bravura and heart!