Something historic this week. A performance by the celebrated New York Philharmonic, guest conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos as well piano soloist in the Piano Concerto Number 3 by Sergei Prokofiev. Taken from a broadcast on January 8, 1943.
A distinguished Music Director of the Minneapolis Symphony from 1937-1949, Mitropoulos and his association with that orchestra for RCA-Victor recorded extensively and was one of the mainstays of most record libraries during the War years. In 1949 he left Minneapolis to go to New York, where he became Music Director of the New York Philharmonic until 1960, when Leonard Bernstein took over.
This performance, recorded during a Pension fund concert for the orchestra, features Mitropoulos as guest conductor, as well as leading the orchestra from the piano which he did when he premiered the concerto in Berlin in 1930, becoming the first conductor to do so. As far as I’m able to sort out, this broadcast recording hasn’t been issued in any form, so this makes it a rather unique and rare performance.
The Prokofiev 3rd is probably his best known Piano concerto, having received its premier in Chicago in 1921 with The Chicago Symphony under Frederick Stock and with the composer at the keyboard. It wasn’t an immediate hit, but gradually over months, it wound up becoming part of the repertoire of many orchestras around the world, and has since been recognized as one of the great piano concertos of the 20th century.
The tenure of Dimitri Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic, aside from the extensive recordings he made during the 78 era in Minneapolis, was duplicated during the early years of the lp with New York for Columbia Records. And even though many of his classic performances have gone out of print, there is a considerable number of memorable recordings (including a rare complete recording of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck).
A rarity to end out the week.