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Stephen Kovacevich Plays Grieg and Schumann
GRIEG Piano Concerto

SCHUMANN Piano Concerto
Stephen Kovacevich (piano)
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Colin Davis
rec Walthamstow Assembly Halls, Sept 1970 (Schumann), Jan 1971 (Grieg).
PHILIPS 50 464 702-2 [60.26]

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I am old enough to remember this first being issued back thirty years ago. Always a premium priced LP it has taken many years for this classic, clean and unglitzy coupling to come my way. Its memorability is tied up not only in a refusal to glamourise but also in its rare use of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra show themselves in a highly desirable light aided by an ADD recording that clarifies and lays clear and clean all the instrumental lines. The piano sound is simply wonderful, pellucid runs presented just so and triple fortes gripping. Kovacevich's timing and tension building and release are something to behold or behear! The urgency that trims and scatters the sparks in the Allegro moderato finale and the quiet horn growls at 0.22 are simply isolated examples of detail registering deliciously and being pointed with style. The Schumann's virtues are similar and certainly makes for memorable listening. Listen to the Mozartian balletic delicacy of the 1.21 of the Allegro Vivace as well as the high tilt romance of the music at 07.02.

For all the name changes the pianist has gone through (one of which is apparent from the cover which includes the original LP sleeve (as do all of the Philips 50 series) these interpretations, in their clean and felicitous fidelity, command our attention - even more so at bargain price.

Rob Barnett



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