Two legends in concert this week. Russian pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy together with Eugene Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra in a program of music by Serge Prokofiev. Broadcast on March 25, 1976 (but most likely recorded earlier).
Both performers have recorded legacies that are massive. Ashkenazy’s going some 50 years and the late Eugene Ormandy one of the first Pop-Star conductors of the recording age, with his legacy going back to the earliest days of disc recording. Both are certainly household names in their own right – and this constitutes a classic concert, though at the time both artists were so popular and so well recorded that a concert such as this may have gotten shrugged shoulders. Yes, we took a lot for granted.
Needless to say, some 40 years after this broadcast, the legacy of Eugene Ormandy lives on and Vladimir Ashkenazy continues his work, primarily as a conductor with most of the major orchestras throughout the world.
This concert consists of all works by Prokofiev. Starting with his first Symphony (or Classical as it is known everywhere). Followed by the third Piano Concerto, featuring Ashkenazy as soloist. The concert concludes with a performance of Prokofiev’s Symphony Number 6.
Eugene Ormandy was such a fixture on the American concert stage and on the radio that it’s difficult, if not impossible to not find at least one Ormandy recording in anyone’s library. He was certainly one of the most well-recorded, going back to the 1920s.
But Ormandy has been gone a while (he died in 1986), and many of his recordings have been replaced in record company catalogs by new up-and-comers. And so music fans may need to be reminded of just how much of a contribution Eugene Ormandy made to the world of Classical Music. This concert is proof of his artistry as well as Ashkenazy’s. So maybe turning this one up and diving into it would be a good idea. It IS Wednesday after all . . .