The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This early stereo pressing boasts a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two for Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1, mated to a Double Plus (A++) side one for Prokofiev's Third
- These performances by Janis are legendary, and with phenomenal sonics such as these, this combination of sound and performance is all but unmatched in our experience
- So big, so, rich, so transparent, so dynamic and full of life, we guarantee you have never heard a better piano concerto record in your life
- The weight of the piano differs on the two sides, which is at least one of the reasons the grades are different
- There are of course many, many things we listen for, but rich, solid, full-bodied piano tone is key to the best sounding pressings
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This is a superb early Mercury Plum label stereo pressing of two of Byron Janis's most famous performances (the other being the Rachmaninoff 3rd, SR 90283, which is every bit the equal of this recording). It's a longtime member of the TAS Super Disc list for good reason.
The recording is explosively dynamic. On this copy the sound was positively jumping out of the speakers. In addition, the brass and strings are full-bodied and rich, with practically no stridency, an unusual feat the Mercury engineers seem to have accomplished while in Russia.
Big, rich sound can sometimes present problems for piano recordings. You want to hear the percussive qualities of the instrument, but few copies pull off that trick without sounding thin. This one showed us a piano that was both clear and full-bodied.
With huge amounts of hall space, weight and energy, this is DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND by any standard. Once the needle has dropped you will quickly forget about the sound and simply find yourself in the presence of some of the greatest musicians of their generation captured on some of the greatest analog recordings of all time.
What Amazing Sides Such as These Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1962
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Fine and Cozart
The piano is huge and powerful, yet the percussive and lighter qualities on the instrument are clearly heard in proper relation to the orchestra as a whole.
I simply cannot criticize the work that Fine and Cozart have achieved with this recording, and believe me, there are very few records in this world about which I could not find something to criticize. It is, after all, our job, and we like to set VERY high standards for the work we do.
What We're Listening For on Both Piano Concertos
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
- Prokofiev - Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Opus 26
- Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No. 1 in F Sharp Minor, Opus 1
This is, in my opinion, the best version of the Prokofiev third piano concerto available, and alone is the reason to purchase this disc.
Both the Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev concertos were recorded in Bolshoi Hall of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow on June of 1962. The recording was made 3-4 weeks after the historical concert on May 13, 1962, in which, after being invited by the soviet government, Janis agreed to play with the Moscow Philharmonic under the great Kyril Kondrashin in a special concert in which he would play three "different" piano concertos back to back.
That night, Byron Janis played the Rachmaninoff's first piano concerto, the Schumann concerto and closed with a spectacular account of Prokofiev's third. The story is that the audience went absolutely crazy and clapped, shouted and praised Janis for over 20 minutes without stopping. After such a response, Janis and Kondrashin decided to play as an encore the third movement of Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto. That night was an unforgettable musical event.
Madame Lina Prokofiev, Prokofiev's widow, who was present in the concert hall that night, was moved to tears after listening to Janis play her late husband's third piano concerto and stated that she was deeply moved by the inspired interpretation.
The Rachmaninoff first is in the same league, with excellent piano playing and phenomenal orchestral support. Altogether this is a fantastic disc and no music collector should be without it.
- Hector Ferral