Great Pianists of the 20th Century - Grigory Grinsburg
Generally speaking I dislike the game of telling record producers which deeply obscure performances they should have chosen in preference to the selections they’ve actually made; and with this Philips series contractual difficulties may in any case have restricted the choice. But I do think that any compilation of the best of Grigory Ginsburg’s art should at least have room for his Liszt Reminiscences of Don Juan and his own transcription of Rossini’s ‘Largo al factotum’. Even more than the best of the performances offered here, they show why his name commands such colossal respect in pianistic circles (hear both works on Melodiya, 8/96).
So what would I have left out? Perhaps the D flat Hungarian Rhapsody, with its rough edits and generally sub-standard recording; certainly not the E major, with its fantastic display of varied glissando, nor indeed any of the other Rhapsodies. Perhaps I could live without the Ruins of Athens March (with woefully detuned treble by the end) and the ‘Rage over a Lost Penny’ Rondo (more excitingly delivered by others) ; certainly I couldn’t sacrifice the Schubert Standchen, which gets a heavenly response to its eloquent melancholy, or the Alabiev/Liszt Nightingale, likewise played from the heart. Perhaps the Tchaikovsky Sonata could go, since it pales when set beside Richter; but the Pabst Onegin Paraphrase would have to stay, for its dreamlike floating quality is pure magic. The Miaskovsky Prelude is a rather ordinary piece; but the Medtner Sonata reminiscenza certainly isn’t, and Ginsburg captures its Russian Innigkeit as unerringly as Gilels elsewhere in this series. I could part with his Prokofiev Third Sonata, albeit reluctantly, because its comparative restraint reveals unusual shades in the piece and because it’s the one live performance in the set.
That all adds up to a mixed, but richly rewarding experience for all piano buffs who can adjust to the generally dryish, close-up recorded sound.'