This 1973 entry in the short series of 'legends' remastered by Decca at 24 bits fully deserves its inclusion. Lupu was notoriously and increasingly reluctant to make recordings and also to take on concert engagements and this rarity value has been added to his inherent musical value.
This disc from early in his recording career is of equal musical satisfaction as his later discs of Schubert for example but, coming from earlier in his career, there is a vitality here as well which was not always so apparent on later discs.
Both concertos recorded here have that degree of thoughtful introspection that is a characteristic of his playing. However some listeners, coming to his music making from later in his career, may not always be aware that he had previously tackled more showy repertoire such as the Liszt concertos and with all the necessary bravura. These two relatively early performances therefore display a possibly surprising degree of additional outwardness and technical bravura that is most refreshing and which is also a basic requirement of such pieces, particularly that by Grieg.
Both Previn and the LSO prove to be sympathetic partners and the recording delivers exemplary balance. The 24 bit remastering is completely successful and serves to show just how much more was to be found on analogue tapes and the resultant LPs than could be transferred to the more limited range possible on the early generation CDs.
This fine pair of performances, especially in their improved remastering, take their rightful place among other performances of note such as Curzon for the Greig and Cliburn for the Schumann. Others offering the same coupling must include Fleisher, Kovacevich and from more recent times, Andsnes.
It is not possible, or a desirable idea, to refer to any recording of such staple repertoire as definitive. However, it is certainly possible to identify those which stand out as of special merit. This disc is certainly one of that elite number.
I would therefore suggest that this disc deserves to be seriously considered for purchase by either those looking for a single example of these two concertos or for those collectors of larger libraries who take pleasure in collecting recordings to enjoy alternative performances of the greatest merit.
on 18 June 2009
I remember Radu Lupu playing the Grieg Piano Concerto at the 1971 Promenade Concerts. It was one of the televised concerts. I was already familiar with the piece, but his interpretation was spine-tingling, and whilst not deviating from the original manuscript, was fresh and full of passion. I have never forgotten it, and am so pleased to be able to say that this recording proves that I have not exaggerated the memory in the subsequent 38 years.
I have a soft spot for the Schumann Concerto, having studied it for GCE "O"-level music more years ago than I care to remember. Again, this is a masterful interpretation, a beautiful balance between soloist and orchestra.
I have several recordings of both concertos, but this is undoubtably the best. MAGIC!
on 4 February 2008
On cassette, back in 1975, this was about the first of the several hundred recordings I was to buy. So at last I have gotten around to replacing my cassette, which still plays fine by the way, with the cd transfer.
These performances simply overwhelm me. Thank you Decca. I think I was originally inspired to buy it through Andre Previn's Music Night of the Grieg Piano Concerto, I can still remember the fjord pictures during the slow movement, and trying to play the piece of course.
Neither Schumann nor Grieg were emotional extremists so I think these performances are pitched exactly right. Beautiful sound, exciting, and yet not in any way marred by any vainglorious individualism.
I would think that these performances would be a safe purchase for almost anyone.
on 15 November 2010
One of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era, Robert Schumann, would be more than delighted with this rendition of his Piano Concerto. The tempi are the right ones throughout.
I know this Concerto since childhood (late 1950s). It was then when my elder brother started collecting LPs of classical music. My first and `only right' performance of Schumann's PC was the Richter-Warsaw National PO-Rowicki. When I left the `old country' to study far away from our common LP collection, I began collecting my own. I'm still building it...
Today, half a century later, more than ever before I appreciate perfection in musical performances. After being acquainted with and listening to a dozen of accounts along the decades I can now say that Radu Lupu's brilliant performance is unrivalled.
The results do credit to Decca's sound engineering team - you might discover something you had not heard before in any other recording. Hats off, gentlemen! We have a legendary recording to listen to over and over. Mr Lupu's playing is both passionate and gentle. He's always in total control of the going. The LSO under Maestro Previn are the best support the soloist could wish for. A seamless combination. The recording date must have been one of those magic days when divine music meets a good piano in a suitable venue, great musicians and extremely competent sound recording experts.
If you share my musical taste -Schumann and Grieg PCs should be played with the utmost romantic approach- stop living without this treasure. May be you'll want to have a copy (chek your local copy regulations) handy next to your CD player and keep the original CD on a secure shelf behind a glass door. Whenever I feel like having a good dose of wonderful music and great sound, I listen to the Lupu-LSO-Previn account of Grieg and Schumann PCs and marvel at the beauty of the music and the perfection of this account and recording. No matter what kind of meloman you are, this disc is more than a must have.