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Saint-Saëns: Concerto No. 2 / Franck: Symphonic Variations / Liszt: Concerto No. 1 Hybrid SACD - DSD

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Hybrid SACD - DSD, June 26, 2007
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22; Andante
  2. Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat; Allegretto vivace (Redbook Stereo) 9.
  3. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22; Andante sostenuto (2007 SACD
  4. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22; Allegro scherzando (2007 SACD
  5. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22; Presto (2007 SACD Remastered)
  6. Symphonic Variations; Poco allegro (2007 SACD Remastered)
  7. Symphonic Variations; Allegro non troppo (2007 SACD Remastered)
  8. Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat; Allegro maestoso (2007 SACD Remastered)
  9. Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat; Quasi adagio (2007 SACD Remastered)
  10. Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat; Allegretto vivace (2007 SACD
  11. Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat; Allegro marziale animato (2007 SACD
  12. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22; Andante sostenuto (5.1
  13. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22; Allegro scherzando (5.1
  14. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22; Presto (5.1 Surround Mix)
  15. Symphonic Variations; Poco allegro (5.1 Surround Mix)
  16. Symphonic Variations; Allegro non troppo (5.1 Surround Mix)
  17. Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat; Allegro maestoso (5.1 Surround Mix)
  18. Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat; Quasi adagio (5.1 Surround Mix)
  19. Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat; Allegretto vivace (5.1 Surround Mix)
  20. Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat; Allegro marziale animato (5.1 Surround


Product Details

  • Performer: Artur Rubinstein
  • Orchestra: Symphony of the Air
  • Conductor: Alfred Wallenstein
  • Composer: Cesar Franck, Franz Liszt, Camille Saint-Saens
  • Audio CD (June 26, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B000QEIM4G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,477 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Arthur Rubinstein had performed Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 many times throughout his concert career; in fact, this was one of the pieces on the program of his first public concert given in 1900. The style in which he plays it is simply captivating. It's not a serious concerto in the German-school, but rather a light-hearted and somewhat amusing concerto. This is probably the most famous recording of the composition, and it's no wonder why.

The Symphonic Variations of Cesar Franck are fantastic, full of energy, vitality and French-Romantic beauty.

Franz Liszt's First Piano Concerto is very well performed here by Rubinstein. I really cannot complain about it.

The reason I give this recording only four (4) stars is because of the sound. Having heard most of the recordings in RCA's newly released and remastered Living Stereo Hybrid-SACD collection, I can conclude that this has rather poor quality sound when compared to the others in the library. It is most noticeable in the Saint-Saens, just a background "hiss" that reminds the listener of just how old the recording is; not the intentions of the remasterers!

Overall, a great recording and well worth your money.
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Sony/BMG continues their Living Stereo SACD reissue series with three Concerto recordings from the 1950s featuring pianist Arthur Rubinstein.

The Saint-Saëns Second Concerto was a great favorite of Rubinstein's. He made his American debut with this piece back in 1906. This recording was made in 1958 in collaboration with the Symphony of the Air (formerly the NBC Symphony Orchestra) under Alfred Wallenstein. There is slightly more forward motion here than in the 1969 version with Ormandy, and even more stunning virtuosity in the finale. However, the recording with Ormandy has the advantage of better orchestral playing, so the two versions balance each other out as my favorites. There is also an excellent filmed version on a Deutsche Grammophon DVD, with Andre Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra, made in 1975.

Rubinstein learned Cesar Frank's Symphonic Variations while traveling by train to a concert in Spain, practicing the passages in his lap. The man had an amazing memory. Here again, he is in top form, giving a performance of brio and élan, with Wallenstein and the orchestra providing a fine accompaniment.

The Liszt is less successful. I don't think Rubinstein ever loved Liszt the way he loved Chopin and Brahms, and as he grew older Liszt's music gradually began dropping out of his repertoire. (Rubinstein made no Liszt recordings after 1965.) Both of Rubinstein's recordings of the Liszt Concerto suffer from a great deal of technical bluffing and general sloppiness. Adding to the problem here is some crude microphone placement, with the infamous triangle passages spotlit beyond all reason.
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I have never considered Rubinstein's RCA Saint-Saens #2 as one of the better efforts in his discography. The passagework in the second movement isn't very accurate. Yes, he had an affinity for French music and the joie de vivre is certainly there. It's just that this not one of his better achievements as a technician. The Franck and Liszt pieces are definitely better played. Wallenstein and the pick-up bands provide good accompaniments.

Rubinstein always wanted the solo piano spotlighted in his concerto recordings. Unfortunately, the piano sound in the Saint-Saens is not only prominent but boxy and constricted with limited high frequency content. The other pieces have much better sound.

This is one of Rubinstein's (and Living Stereo's) lesser achievements. If you already own the older Living Stereo redbook CD (same program) you need not replace it. The gains from the SACD refurbishment are minimal at best.
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The Saint-Saens concerto was performed well, I thought. I have had other recordings of this work, and this one compares favorably. The Franck work, Symphonic Variations, I did not particularly care for. While the overall interpretation was fine, some parts were not as 'symphonic' as they should be; i.e., single instruments were heard where I am accustomed to hearing multiple voices. The Liszt concerto is passable.
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