Britten Piano Concerto; Violin Concerto
This record tempts me to name-dropping reminiscence! I bought the original LP in July 1971 and during the following month was in the composer's Aldeburgh home and referred not only to the issue itself but also JW's
The Violin Concerto composed a year later in Canada appeals to me more; it has much more openness of personal feeling and a final elegiac coda of haunting beauty. But there's still no shortage of virtuoso demands, and indeed Heifetz once asked Britten over a lunch to simplify it or allow him to do so! The composer resisted but was concerned enough to ask Manoug Parikian's advice, which was to leave it as it was. There are some demanding passages of which Lubotsky makes heavy weather (listen from the 1'34'' point of the first movement, for example) and like many other players he slows down considerably and very noticeably in the central scherzo from the marked—and elsewhere played—tempo of dotted crotchet = 104 in the notorious passage beginning at the 4'35'' mark, with its scales in double artificial harmonics. But if not quite in the class of Richter's, this is still a good performance which wears well and conveys the work's powerful feeling. Good sound in both concertos, recorded in The Maltings, Snape, and an attractive buy at mid price.
The recent Hyperion issue is well worth considering if the coupling of the Khachaturian Piano Concerto suits you. Servadei and Giunta with the LPO are more spacious in the Piano Concerto (taking three minutes longer overall) and often winningly sensitive, as in the quiet final statement of the first movement's main theme and the ''Waltz'' and ''Impromptu'' that are the two middle movements, but they offer plenty of brilliance too where it is needed.'