Shostakovitch & Ravel : Piano Concertos

Shostakovitch & Ravel : Piano Concertos


Shostakovitch : Piano Concerto No. 2 - Leonard Bernstein, piano, conducting the New York Philarmonic Orchestra

Ravel : Piano Concerto in G Major - Leonard Bernstein, piano, directing the Columbia Philarmonic Orchestra

Columbia 6043

Impex Records : LP 180 gram

Brand New and Sealed Record

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Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) : Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 101
Joseph-Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) : Piano Concerto in G Major

Recorded April 7, 1958 (Ravel) at Columbia 30th Street Studio in New York City and January 6, 1959 (Shostakovich) at the Colorama Ballroom of Saint George Hotel in New York City.

You'll never confuse Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 composed in 1957 with piano concertos composed during the romantic era, except when you get to the squooshy center where the composer goes all Rachmaninoff on you. The cinematic first movement sounds both ominous and light-hearted like a Hitchcock chase scene and it's easy to hear how Bernard Herrmann may have been influenced by this rousing first movement. It will get your heart pounding.

The second movement has the stamp of Russian gravitas in the opening bars and then softens to the exquisite Rachmaninoff-like melodic line from which Bernstein pulls all of the emotional longing and heart-tugging beauty. The third movement returns to the angular, chase-like motif of the first and ends with a rousing finale.

Ravel wrote his Piano Concerto in G Major years after Gershwin wrote "Rhapsody In Blue" in 1924, so when you immediately recognize Gershwin in Ravel's piece, know that Ravel wrote this piece in 1931. After writing "Rhapsody In Blue" Gershwin went to Paris where he asked Ravel for lessons but was turned down because Ravel didn't want to possibly ruin his jazzy style.

Despite the Gershwinesque opening sections and some jazzy interludes of his own, complete with an ascending clarinet line at one point, the piece quickly becomes easily recognizable as Ravel's as the colors shine through and the impressionistic arrangement yields fantasmagoric images.