The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*
- You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout this early Mercury label pressing of these masterful piano concertos
- Rachmaninoff's No. 1 takes up all of this Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side two and is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
- The finest recordings of the Prokofiev No. 3 and Rachmaninoff No. 1 – these performances by Janis are legendary, and with phenomenal sonics such as these, the combination of sound and performance here is virtually 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
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*NOTE: This record was not noisy enough to rate our M-- to EX++ grade, but it's not quite up to our standards for Mint Minus Minus either. If you're looking for quiet vinyl, this is probably not the best copy for you.
This is a superb early Mercury label stereo pressing of two of Byron Janis's most famous performances (along with the Rachmaninoff 3rd, which is every bit as good). It's a longtime member of the TAS Super Disc list.
The recording is explosively dynamic and 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 The Best Sides Of Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concertos 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.
- 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.
A Must Classical Record
We consider this album a masterpiece. It's a recording that belongs in any serious Classical Music Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
- Prokofiev - Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Opus 26
- Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No. 1 in F Sharp Minor, Opus 1
Piano Concerto No. 3
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26, is a piano concerto by Sergei Prokofiev. It was completed in 1921 using sketches first started in 1913.
Prokofiev began his work on the concerto as early as 1913 when he wrote a theme with variations which he then set aside. Although he revisited the sketches in 1916–17, he did not fully devote himself to the project until 1921 when he was spending the summer in Brittany.
Prokofiev himself played the solo part at the premiere on 16 December 1921 in Chicago with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Frederick Stock. The work did not gain immediate popularity and had to wait until 1922 to be confirmed in the 20th century canon, after Serge Koussevitzky conducted a lavishly praised performance in Paris. The first Soviet performance was on 22 March 1925, by Samuil Feinberg, with the Orchestra of the Theatre of the Revolution under Konstantin Saradzhev.
The concerto consists of three movements of roughly equal length which last just under 30 minutes in total.
- Andante – Allegro
- Tema con variazioni (in E minor)
- Allegro, ma non troppo
Of the five piano concertos written by Prokofiev, the third piano concerto has garnered the greatest popularity and critical acclaim. The concerto radiates a crisp vitality that testifies to Prokofiev's inventive prowess in punctuating lyrical passages with witty dissonances, while maintaining a balanced partnership between the soloist and orchestra. Unlike the examples of piano concertos set by many of Prokofiev's Romantic forebears, the orchestra rises above subsidiary accompaniment to play a very active part in this work.
Piano Concerto No. 1
Sergei Rachmaninoff composed his Piano Concerto No. 1 in F♯ minor, Op. 1, in 1891, at age 17-18 (the first two movements were completed while he was still 17; the third movement and the orchestration were completed shortly after he had turned 18). He dedicated the work to Alexander Siloti. He revised the work thoroughly in 1917.
The work is in three movements:
Vivace (F♯ minor)
This contrast with the later works can be heard from the opening bars, where a brass fanfare precedes a flourish of double octaves and chords on the piano – a musical gesture similar to the Schumann and Grieg piano concertos. This flourish occurs later in the movement, as well, an important factor in the symmetry of the movement. The main theme (like the other themes in this work common to both versions) is short by Rachmaninoff's standards but already shows the sequential devices and arch-like design inherent in his later works.
Andante cantabile (D major) [1917 version: andante]
This reflective nocturne is only 74 bars long. The texture is less cumbersome in the revised version; the harmonies remain the same but are enlivened by occasional chromatic notes.
Allegro scherzando (F♯ minor → F♯ major) [1917 version: allegro vivace]
Rachmaninoff replaced an initially drab opening with a fortissimo passage alternating between time signatures of 9/8 and 12/8. This movement is in sonata-rondo form, in which the development is a lengthy section in E-flat major. A maestoso reemergence of the concerto's main theme was eliminated. In the original version he had attempted to use this theme in an upward sequential treatment similar to what he would do later in the Second and Third Concertos. The problem here was that the theme did not lend itself so easily to this treatment, thus sounding contrived. It also came too late in the movement to have the right expansive effort prevalent in the other concertos.