Was Ormandy the right conductor for mighty Rachmaninov?main
Joe Horowitz has his doubts:
Ormandy’s recorded accompaniments to Rachmaninoff’s First, Second, and Fourth Piano Concertos are merely supportive: they give the soloist nothing to work with. (My pianist friend George Vatchnadze, describing the Rachmaninoff-Ormandy relationship, calls Ormandy a “puppy” and a “servant” — apt adjectives.) Stokowski’s accompaniment to the Second Concerto is unique. The signature lava flow of his magnificent Philadelphia strings is not only memorably ravishing; it is acutely calibrated in dialogue with the composer/pianist. It is not for nothing that Rachmaninoff called Stokowski’s Philadelphia Orchestra the greatest orchestra that had ever existed.
If you want to hear what I’m talking about, listen first to the passage from the First Concerto that Vladimir Horowitz once identified as the only instance of RCA adequately conveying Rachmaninoff’s art. This is the piano solo beginning at 12:52 here. And observe how the intrusion of Ormandy’s generic accompaniment cancels the abandon of Rachmaninoff’s playing, with its untethered rubatos and magically layered dynamics….
Read on here.