The Absolute Sound Super Disc List 2016 TAS Harry Pearson Super LP List
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This version of Brahms’s massive First Concerto was an instant classic when released in 1962 and recommending it now is still a no-brainer. Curzon gets to the heart of the music. He captures the high drama of the symphonic opening movement, and his rapt concentration makes a profound effect in the Adagio, famous for his controversially slow tempo. Szell is his equal here, conducting with passion. The way he screws up the tension in the orchestra’s opening statement and then, through judicious rubato and a warming of the string tone, makes the second subject come alive is a mini-lesson in great conducting.
“Clifford Curzon hated recording in general, and his relations with Szell were fractious at worst and civil at best. Together, however, they made what many consider the finest recorded performance of the Brahms concerto… From the opening bars, this reading grabs your attention. Szell gets the titanic orchestral introduction to rage like no other. …Curzon proves a match for the orchestral mass, with a magisterial entry and huge singing tone.” – Steve Schwartz, classical.net
“This 1962 recording has long been considered one of the very best performances and recordings of the difficult Brahms First Piano Concerto. It is one of the prime examples of the achievements of the Decca engineers of the time in getting lifelike sound, during this Golden Age of analog recording…The rich tone of Curzon’s piano is a joy to hear…” – John Sunier, 5 Stars!!
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