Friday, August 23, 2013

Another vote for Lateiner

Another of my correspondents also prefers the Lateiner/Leinsdorf recording of Carter's Piano Concerto to the competition. He writes:

I have to admit the Lateiner/Leinsdorf recording of Carter's Piano Concerto is still my favorite despite whatever momentary insecurities are audible in the orchestral playing. Compared to the extraordinarily sensitive Lateiner, Oppens strikes me as expressively blank, and Leinsdorf is an ideal partner for Lateiner's intensity and expressivity. (Oppens' clangorous technique doesn't exactly result in the most ravishing sounds, either.) And what a tour de force giving the premiere was: the Boston Symphony Orchestra had never performed a Carter piece before or virtually any other post-war music of comparable difficulty. It's thanks to Leinsdorf that they got through it all, let alone with the degree of comprehension that they did.

I have a similar reaction to the Rosen-Jacobs-Prausnitz recording of the Double Concerto, minus any reservations about the security of the ensemble playing. With the Kalish-Jacobs-Weisberg recording of the Double Concerto made a few years later, we enter the era of technically impeccable but expressively faceless performances of modernist repertory. Magnificently musical, Prausnitz and Rosen still had one foot in an older and more expressive performance tradition, like Carter's music itself.

I agree about Prausnitz, Rosen, and Jacobs, but I still disagree about Ursula Oppens. What my correspondent hears as clangorous, I hear as strength, a quality the soloist needs as she contends against the orchestra. And if it's an expressive, faceful rendering of the Piano Concerto you want, try Rosen/Smirnoff.

An all-Carter-Piano-Concerto weekend may be called for here.

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