By Vladimir Feltsman. By Franz Liszt, Franz Schubert, Frederic Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven, Olivier Messiaen, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Robert Schumann, Sergei Prokofiev, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Classical. Listening CD. Sony Music Entertainment #19075911432. Published by Sony Music Entertainment (NX.19075911432).
In summer 1987, nine years after he first requested permission to emigrate, the 35-year-old Russian pianist Vladimir Feltsman was finally allowed to leave the Soviet Union. Feltsman, who had studied at the Moscow Conservatory with the legendary Yakov Flier and won first prize at the prestigious Long-Thibaud Competition in Paris at the age of 19, arrived in New York amid a welter of publicity. CBS Masterworks offered him a recording contract, while President Ronald Reagan welcomed him to the White House for a recital that was glowingly reviewed in the New York Times. When Feltsman made his Carnegie Hall debut two months later, the Times hailed him as "an artist of wide musical interests... Mr. Feltsman took an aptly spacious and relaxed approach to the first two movements ... He then let loose in the more brilliant Allegro finale with an impressive display of breathtaking scales ..." Interest in Feltsman's pianism had already been piqued before the pianist set foot in the New World by a performance, released by CBS in 1986, of the Chopin Preludes recorded in Moscow. "Feltsman sweeps through the 24 Preludes with genuine poetic bravura," wrote the Los Angeles Times. "There is a daring and Romantic fire in the playing which only add to the agony of his plight." Now Sony Classical is reissuing that Carnegie debut recital from 1987, a Russian Chopin recording that preceded it and an even earlier Schubert recital, from Paris in 1978, along with all the other Feltsman performances captured by CBS mics before his collaboration with the label ended in 1989. Among them are a live Liszt recital including the B minor Sonata and a live Rachmaninoff coupling of the Third Concerto and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic. He also recorded the First and Third Tchaikovsky concertos with Washington's National Symphony Orchestra under Mstislav Rostropovich, who, wrote Gramophone's reviewer, "coaxes out playing of the very highest quality - rich-toned, idiomatic in inflexion, with just the right degree of thrust when required ... [Feltsman's] is a relatively laid back view of the First Concerto - no screaming in the outer movements, no flashfingered shallowness in the central prestissimo of the slow movement. The big first movement cadenza is wonderfully fluid and continuous, and the transition into the following coda is a dream...".
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