Two splendid accounts here, with the sound having come up very well from 1958 (no. 2) and 1961 (No. 1) in the remastering. The piano has plenty of presence, and so does the orchestra, and neither conductor seems to be apologizing for the young Chopin's scoring. The orchestral parts are presented with utmost directness. The sound of the orchestra might be a touch more congested in No. 2, but the piano sound is marginally better in No. 2 also. It was recorded in Carnegie Hall, while the London-recorded No. 1 has just a touch of glassiness at times. But all that doesn't really matter: Rubinstein plays with verve and force in both concertos, and if No. 2 struck me as more compelling, that might be because it simply is the better piece, with a slyer wit in the finale and a real tension in the slow movement, while the slow movement of No. 1 seems more unruffled in its limpid lyricism. The relative forwardness of the piano means that in No. 1 at least Pollini's almost contemporary performance catches more light and shade by virtue of its better balance, but these accounts are preferable as recordings to Perahia's disappointing versions with Mehta and have a bit more presence than Ax's good performances with Ormandy. Highly recommended!
Another excellent SACD from the Living Stereo series. The performances are first rate, the N°1 is up there not far from the celebrated EMI Pollini/Kletzki/Philharmonia recording, but perhaps less sensitive in interpretation. The sound quality is outstanding, better than any other from the same period, and better than many more recent recordings. As with many of the concertos in the series, the soloist is prominent in the recording, but this goes well with Chopin's concertos where the orchestra is more like an accompaniment rather than a counter force to the piano. Of the two recordings here, I prefer Rubinstein's interpretation of the 2nd, being rather more romantic than the 1st.
The recording times are a bit shorter than usual, due to some shortenings of the score, but this does not spoil anything for me. The bonus is that you have both concertos on 1 disc making for excellent value.
In summary, an SACD not to be missed for Living Stereo enthusiasts, and highly recommended for all other lovers of Chopin's music.
Note for those with multi-channel playback equipment: On the SACD multi-channel layer, Concerto 1 is a stereo recording, and Concerto 2 is a 3 track recording (left, centre, right).