This mono disc of the concertos was very well recorded in 1958 and solo piano music were quite well recorded in 1958/9. The sound of the mono concertos in this 2003 remastering is of such quality as to make concern over sound an irrelevance.
The key thing about these concerto recordings is that they are delivered with a level of energy and rhythmical tautness that has simply never been matched since. Other performances are frequently driven too hard and completely miss the humour of the pieces. others try to make them more serious by going the other way and dragging. So much for the outer movements. The slow movement of the second concerto as played here has a breathtaking beauty in its simplicity of communication. The trumpet playing in the first concerto has a swagger and nonchalant humour that perfectly matches Shostakovich's own playing.
As a record of this pair of concertos this is simply in a class of its own and the date and limitations of the stareo sound pale into insignificance in this context.
The rest of the disc consists of equally definitive playing from the composer. The sound here is not so good and is typical of piano timbre of the period where recording engineers were still struggling with 'wooden' timbres. There is a lack of depth which adds to the relatively shallow sound. Nevertheless this is still a rare example of Shostakovich speaking directly to his public and as such remains a valuable part of discography.
Regardless of quibbles over the sound quality of the solo items, this disc still remains supreme in the realm of the concertos where there are no such quibbles over the sound quality of the piano, or anything else.
This is one of those 'must have' discs for all collectors however many other recordings are owned of these concertos.
a brand new amazon buy as here is the composer himself playing both piano concerti, along with solo works - three fantastic dances, 5 preludes +fugues . the recording is in mono , from 1958 + with Andre Clutyens and the Orchestre de la Radiodiffusion Francaise in essential recordings for all Shostakovich (DSCH) fans.
the recorded sound although mono is perefectly fine overall, lacking a little presence obviously but DSCH plays both Piano Concerti very well indeed , nicely placed in the soundstage with incisive, exciting and articulate playing of these rightfully acknowledged 20th C classic works. Conductor and his cohorts give admirable support with well judged tempi, string playing and plaintive trumpet in the first concero in particular. the h-a-p-p-y motif always raises a wry smile also. DSCH like Prokofiev always has a sly wink to knowing friends , themselves + perceptive audiences with their occasional little quotes in their music.the music is of course deeply felt but wears its emotions lightly with its knockabout humour yet darker undertow, a delight. i have versions by Alexeev, Leonskaya, Rudy + List but the composer playing his own works so well is definite must have also.
the 3 Fantastic Dances are early (op.5) short pieces + ok if a little slight in content. the Preludes + Fugues are for me a little underpowered here by the composer himself. ok but perhaps a little lacking in emotional "steel" + dynamics, coming across here a slightly polite versions of his own works. the Bach works - DSCH modelled them on, do not sound in danger of being overtaken here.. i would like to compare DSCH with Tatiana Nikolayeva 's acclaimed versions at some point. the cd booklet is informative with some rare images of the composer himself also.
overall though, this EMI historic recording is strongly recommended for all DSCH obsessives.
I've just been listening to this for the first time and it is fantastic. I'd never heard the Great Man's piano concertos previously, though very much an admirer of his symphonies and quartets, but gather he was a formidable pianist as well as one of the great composers.
First of all the music - from the first few bars I was enthralled! Clearly it is Shostakovich's music, so if you like his stuff, you'll like this. To described the music, something notable in many of the concerto movements, was the piano, though clearly very separate from the orchestra, was still playing alongside the orchestra if that makes sense. Dare I say most piano concertos each take turns almost. Here the piano is serving the music, rather than being a vehicle to show off the soloist which is an aspect of most concertos I'm less keen on. Though Shostakovich often uses pianos as part of the band in his symphonies, he's not doing that here - it is very much a proper concerto.
It's a mono, quite old recording, but sounds perfectly fine on my medium/hi end system, so you are not really sacrificing anything for a so-say "historic" recording.
The solo piano works included, whilst perhaps less exciting from the off, include some real magic, and may give further rewards on repeated listening, so also well worth having
Maybe others' versions are better I can't say, but this superb and has Dimitri himself playing, so you'll want this one in any case.