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CD Review

Virtuoso De Larrocha

Alicia de Larrocha, piano
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Lawrence Foster
* London Philharmonic Orchestra/Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Decca Virtuoso 4786966
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These are wonderful performances in vintage Decca sound, and it's a delight to have them at budget price for a wider audience. Frankly, the review could feasibly end there, save for the fact that some prefer the pianist's RCA remakes. Still, these are pieces that this painfully shy artist owned with total confidence, and no matter what rendition you ultimately decide on, the works presented here are an important part of her legacy.

The Nights last appeared in The Decca Sound, a fine set that I reviewed with considerable enthusiasm, but considering that set has been supplanted by a second volume and is mostly out of print, this single album really is your best option. Frühbeck de Burgos was a conductor that I was fortunate enough to see live in concert before his death, and he was a committed and intelligent collaborator in all of his efforts. Certainly in this music he had few peers, and this is first-class in every respect.

As for the Ravel concertos, few pianists then or now commanded the idiom so well. While nobody will mistake the London Philharmonic under Foster for the Berlin Philharmonic under Abbado, the results are still exceptional. Taken as a whole, this expertly planned disc easily demands your purchase. At the Virtuoso price, it really can't be beat.

Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman

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