Prokofiev & Rachmaninoff / Piano Concertos / Janis – Kondrashin – Reviewed in 2010

More Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Piano Concertos / Janis – Kondrashin

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This is a very good sounding and pretty darn quiet Mercury Plum label pressing of Janis’ superb performances, and a member of the TAS Super Disc list. Side one, the Prokofiev side, is super-transparent, with a percussive and wonderfully clear, correct sounding piano at the center of the stage. Additionally, the orchestra is not shrill as it is on so many Mercury pressings. 

If you’re in the market for quality classical recordings these days you know that finding a fairly quiet, not shrill, tonally correct Mercury is no easy task. So many are scratched or groove damaged, especially on this title — we went through three copies to find one that was even passable. The piano on the other two broke up like crazy whenever Janis started to pound away, which is something both works call for throughout.

Side two, the Rachmaninoff side, has a lovely piano surrounded in space. The strings are sweet, not something you hear every day on a Mercury record, but the orchestra does get congested in the louder passages.

The last eighth of an inch or so of this side is full of inner groove distortion. No copy we played did not have it. (Side one had a bit as well but not nearly to this extent.)

The cover shows some very slight wear and rates 8+ out of 10. Side one plays Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus. There is some surface noise during the louder orchestral passages and some Inner Groove Distortion but overall it’s quiet for a record of this era. Side two plays Mint Minus Minus with a lightly ticky edge. It has some Inner Groove Distortion during the louder orchestral passages and for the last 1/8″ as well. 

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Prokofiev – Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Opus 26

Side Two

Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No. 1 in F Sharp Minor, Opus 1