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David Hurwitz, March 2015

Janis does a superb job in both [concertos]. © 2015 Read complete review

Mark Koldys
American Record Guide, September 2011

…Janis performances rank with the very best and deserve to be made widely available again

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

James Manishen
Winnipeg Free Press, April 2011

IN 1960 American pianist Byron Janis spearheaded a cultural exchange program in Moscow resulting in these 1962 recordings made by American Mercury to commemorate his now legendary acclaim. In this Liszt bicentennial year, it’s nice to have these great performances back to remember Janis in his prime as among the greatest pianists of his day.

Janis was a Horowitz pupil for a few years and shows charisma to spare, fortified by a stunning technique, imagination, keen lyrical impulse and architectural strength. Both concertos still sound electrifying and are superbly conducted, even with the snarling Moscow brass and wobbly solo horn grating a bit. Rounding things out is a splendidly played group of solo pieces by Liszt, Falla and, most memorably, Schumann. A great reissue., April 2011

Sometimes it is just plain fun to listen to top-notch performers doing what they do best: playing up a storm, even if the music they are playing is heard all too frequently or is something less than inspired. Byron Janis’ excellent 1962 recordings of Liszt’s piano concertos show their age sonically, and the then-Soviet orchestras are not quite as warm and fluid as a modern listener might like, but these readings are a joy nevertheless. Janis simply sweeps into and onto the music, playing with such intensity and skill that he sometimes seems to have 12 fingers. The “Marziale” sections of the two concertos are especially impressive: big, brassy, bold and tremendously exciting. Yes, the readings are lacking in subtlety—but these are not really subtle works, although they are certainly cleverly designed and assembled. It is simply a pleasure to hear Janis have at this music, playing it as if it is the simplest thing in the world to toss off and about rather than as if it is mind-numbingly difficult and a height to be scaled. In fact, the whole CD (parts of which were recorded even earlier than the concertos, in 1961) showcases Janis as a pianist who is thoroughly at home in brash showpieces. But Janis (born 1928) has a subtler side, too, which comes forth especially well in one of the solo pieces here, Liszt’s Sonnetto 104 del Petrarca from Années de pèlerinage. And Janis can be quite playful, too, as in the tiny final encore (lasting just over a minute): The Harmonica Player by Texas composer David Guion (1892–1981). This is one of those CDs that exists simply for pleasure, and provides a great deal of it.

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6:02:38 AM, 27 April 2015
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