Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 (CD review)

Also, Khachaturian: Piano Concerto in D flat major.  Boris Berezovsky, piano; Dmitri Liss, Ural Philharmonic Orchestra. Warner Classics 2564 63074-2.

Pity pianist Boris Berezovsky; he gets sabotaged by the recording engineer.

Berezovsky, born in 1969, is the 1990 winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Ever since then he has been in demand with leading orchestras. He is, to say the least, a virtuoso of the keyboard, able easily to dazzle the ear with his flashy finger work. Since the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto is a mercurial piece, anyway, his technique functions reasonably well. The big opening theme goes by lickety-split, and then when the second subject arrives the pianist practically stops the performance with his lingering tempo reductions. If you like this sort of thing, it can be quite dramatic. He settles down by the final movement to something a bit more consistent.

I preferred his craftsmanship more in the Khachaturian Concerto, however, where the composer's style is rather a razzle-dazzle affair to begin with, and Berezovsky's overt showmanship shines more brightly. He really seems at home with Khachaturian's bursts of enthusiastic frenzy.

The problem is the sound, recorded in February, 2006. The engineers miked the piano quite closely, making it appear too tubby for ultimate realism; and then they give the orchestra a fat, blurred presence that does nothing to improve matters. Listen to Cliburn (RCA or JVC.), Gilels (RCA), or Argerich (DG or Philips) in the Tchaikovsky, and you find an altogether more solid and more convincing soundscape. And the Cliburn and Gilels recordings go back over forty and fifty years.



  1. My name is Louis Solomons. I am an avid fan of classical music. I enjoy reading your blog on this subject. It allows me to broaden my horizons and explore listening in more depth.

    I did Music GCSE and A Level and A2 at school, as well as Grade 8 Voice with ABRSM. I am now undertaking ATCL (Associate Trinity College London in Singing.

    I own the 60 CD Collection of Living Stereo. Does the Cliburn recording you refer to on RCA come from there (its coupled with Rach 2)?

    Also, I was particular interested in your review of the Heifetz Sibelius concerto, also from that set. What I need more clarification on though is whether or not you'd recommend it to me. (You see, I'm very into 'the Oldies' - Cliburn, Heifetz, Reiner etc).

    I'm currently listening to the recording Pierre Monteux made with the BSO of Tchaikovsky's final symphony. Fantastic stuff!

    I'd appreciate your views on what I have written.

    Thank you

  2. I, too, love the old "Living Stereo" series from RCA as well as the "Living Presence" series from Mercury. I'd recommend anything from either series. And, yes, the Cliburn-Tchaikovsky disc I refer to is from the early series. It became a huge seller for Cliburn and RCA. I have it on a remastered JVC XRCD, but the regular RCA release isn't bad.

    You can find other recommendations in "The Basic Classical Collection on Compact Disc":



John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

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It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa