Rudolf Firkusny - Rudolf Firkusny Edition (Box) [Limited Edition] (Aus) | RECORD STORE DAY

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LIMITED EDITION. SINGLE PRESSING ONLY. From a landmark Janácek album to a previously unpublished Schubert/Mozart recording, this collection presents the Deutsche Grammophon, British and American Decca, and Westminster legacy of Rudolf Firkusny (1912-1994), acclaimed by Stereo Review as 'the outstanding champion of Czech piano music on the international circuit'. 30 years after his death (on 19 July 1994), there are still works in the piano repertoire that have become indelibly associated with the artistry of Rudolf Firkusny: most of all, the piano works of Leos Janácek, whom Firkusny knew as a young student in Prague. The pianist went on to make his US debut in 1941, when he played not a repertoire warhorse but the neglected Piano Concerto by Dvorák, under Sir Thomas Beecham. Firkusny made six recordings of the Concerto across the course of a long career; the Westminster version newly remastered here was made in 1963 and conducted by Lázsló Somogyi, and has often since been placed at the head of the work's discography along with the version recorded Sviatoslav Richter and Carlos Kleiber. Firkusny's 1960 version of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition also attracted favourable comparison with Richter for it's plain-spoken virtuosity. It seemed to listeners at the time that the pianist's patrician technique and finely-wrought musicality had been rounded out by a new passion to his playing in what became the middle of his career. Although record labels tended to pigeonhole Firkusny in Czech repertoire, his sympathies were wide, as the span of this set suggests. His 1973 recording of Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto on Decca (with the New Philharmonia under Uri Segal) has been forgotten, though reviewers at the time thought it was finer than the more familiar Capitol recording with William Steinberg. A 1974 album of sonatas further underlines his Beethovenian credentials, though he had already established them on Decca in a partnership with the violinist Erica Morini which yielded four albums. As well as four Beethoven sonatas, they made enduringly elegant recordings of sonatas by Mozart, Brahms and Franck. By ranging in this way across Firkusny's remarkably sensitive reflexes as a concerto, chamber and solo pianist, this Eloquence set demonstrates the truth of Tully Potter's verdict: 'Of all the notable 20th-century Czech pianists, Firkusny was surely the greatest'. Perhaps most valuable of all is the inclusion of previously unreleased recordings of Mozart's Dupont Variations and Schubert's final Piano Sonata in B flat D.960. These were made in January 1963 for the American branch of Decca, but then shelved for reasons unknown. They present Firkusny at the peak of his powers, his phrasing typically natural and unostentatious. An essay by Jed Distler surveys Firkusny's life and career in the context of the albums newly remastered within this Original Jackets collection.