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Gramophone, February 2020

The 50 greatest Tchaikovsky recordings

Anyone who was lucky enough to attend Carnegie Hall on April 19th, 1941 will have heard one of the most electrifying Tchaikovsky concerts in living memory. Arturo Toscanini conducted the early Voyevoda Overture, the Pathetique Symphony and the First Piano Concerto with his son-in-law Vladimir Horowitz as soloist (it was the very first time that they had performed the work together). Wartime collectors at least had the chance to hear the famous Horowitz-Toscanini studio recording of the concerto, made during the following month. Nowadays, of course, that RCA classic is considered something of a ‘must’ for piano aficionados, and yet its live predecessor is, if anything, even more spontaneous. © Gramophone Read complete review

Penguin Guide, January 2009

Horowitz’s famous wartime Carnegie Hall recording of the B flat minor Concerto has since remained the yardstick by which all subsequent versions have been judged. Somehow the alchemy of the occasion was unique and the result is unforgettable. In spite of the Carnegie Hall ambience, the recording is confirmed and lacking bass, but the Naxos transfer engineer, Mark Obert-Thorn, has achieve impressive results from a single post-war set of 78s in mint condition. Such is the magnetism of the playing, however, that the ear forgets the sonic limitations within moments. Toscanini’s accompaniment is remarkable not only for matching the adrenalin of his soloist (particularly in the visceral thrill of the finale’s climax), but for the tenderness he finds for the lyrical passages of the first movement. The powerful cadenza becomes its apex, with one passage in which there seem to be two pianists in duet, rather than just one pair of human hands. Toscanini’s moments of delicacy extend to the Andantino, which is semplice, even when accompanying the coruscating pianistic fireworks of the central section. The finale carries all before it, with Horowitz’s riveting octaves leading to a tremendously exciting statement of the big tune before storming off furiously to the coda.

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