Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
Can it be true that these fresh, poetic, powerful, and overwhelmingly virtuosic performances of Grieg and Schumann's piano concertos by Leon Fleisher with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra have never been released on compact disc before, that in fact the last time they were available was as a budget-priced LP reissue in the early '70s? It's true, all too true: these classic 1960 recordings, recordings that rank with Richter's and Lipatti's as among the greatest ever made, seem to be issued here for the first time on compact disc on Sony's revival of its "Great Performances" imprint. Fleisher and Szell's performances are not only tremendous in and of themselves; they have such enormous strength of conviction that they make the music sound better than it probably is. In Fleisher and Szell's performances, Grieg and Schumann's concertos are not simply works in the standard piano-orchestra repertoire; they are among the greatest works of musical Romanticism and their performances have an elated and exhilarating quality that warms the heart and quickens the pulse. Those who love these pieces owe it to themselves to hear this disc. Columbia's stereo sound in 1960 was full, deep, and clear and this Sony reissue admirably retains those qualities.