Grieg/Schumann Piano Concertos, etc
As we all know, the catalogue is literally bursting with fine recordings of the Grieg and Schumann concertos. But I can truthfully say that none has ever touched me more than this legendary 1972 coupling – and all praise to Philips for ensuring that a younger generation can still enjoy it at attractive mid price. Stephen Kovacevich’s wholly natural, intimately poetic phrasing, his delicately glistening fingerwork and his bravura and rhythmic virility, too, when required (as in Grieg’s finale) must of course be noted first. Yet never can I recall a performance in which pianist, conductor and orchestra are in closer or more subtly balanced and shaded accord. Each and every participant sounds as personally involved as in chamber music-making. The sound quality has not the forward brightness of present-day reproduction: you may need to turn up your volume control a little higher than usual. But its old-world mellowness seems just right for performances as loving as these.
For good measure we’re even given an encore – though rather curiously there is no mention of it in the accompanying booklet – and from a totally different pianist. But Zoltan Kocsis’s account of Grieg’s early E minor Sonata (much praised in