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Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor Op. 18 (1900) [30:51]
Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor Op. 30 (1909) [37:45]
Prelude in E flat major Op. 23 No. 6 [2:49]
Prelude in C sharp minor Op. 3 No. 2 [3:50]
Byron Janis (piano)
London SO/Antal Dorati (3); Minneapolis SO/Antal Dorati (2)
rec. Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis, 17-18 Apr 1960 (2, Preludes); Watford Town Hall 16-17 June 1961 (3) ADD
originally issued on Mercury LPs: SR90260 (2); SR90283 (3)
SACD reviewed in CD mode

Janis (b. 1928, McKeesport, Pennsylvania) studied with Horowitz for three years such was his gift and celebrity. The present two recordings are the evidence of an outstanding talent caught before the depredations of psoriatic arthritis took their toll. Both are strong contenders for your affection and respect; the Third more than the Second.

Janis has a resounding muscular tone as well as a satin delicacy - here recorded close-up. He is superbly partnered by the London Symphony Orchestra and Dorati in No. 3. There are many poetic touches from the orchestra; not least from the violins. Dorati coaxes a crashingly precise report from the LSO at the start of the finale. Nothing is allowed to pass as commonplace whether limelight melody or chugging ostinato. To sample the best try from 10:40 in the finale of No. 3 to the end. As for Janis he rips into the part with shockingly impressive technique which proclaims strength even in the quieter moments. Now ponder the fashion and inclination that precluded Janis taking up the Medtner concertos.

Janisís Second begins almost impassively - certainly modestly. The weight of the Minneapolis strings instantly captivates as it also does in the precise stereo by-play of the finale. Janis tends to be less than probing in the middle movement and he is not helped by a vibrato-laden flute. Microphone placement is surely ideal for it picks up detail in macro focus.

Place Janis in the company of Argerich and Wild in the case of No. 3 and Richter in No. 2.

This disc presents for the first time the original tapes in their three channel (left, right centre format), a new DSD stereo and the original CD transfer. I heard the only in conventional CD format. These are drawn from analogue tapes and the intrinsic sound is underpinned with a softened hiss.

Good and full notes.

Two classic readings well worth your consideration.

Rob Barnett

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