Witold Malcuzynski, piano
Price range: $27-261, mean $68
Comments: Nearly every piano student learns one or more of the Chopin waltzes at some time or another during his or her studies. These are a collection of some of the charming piano works ever written, and here they are given a special treatment by the pianist Witold Malcuzynski. For those of you are not familiar with this name, Malcuzynski was a Polish born pianist who began his studies at the Warsaw Conservatory but later was invited to study with Marguerite Long and Isidore Philipp in Paris. He won third place at the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1937. Malcuzynski has been highly regarded as a Chopin interpreter and made several solo and concerto recordings for EMI/Columbia in the 1950s and 1960s.
Allow me to say that this is one of the finest recordings of a piano that I've heard on vinyl. Malcuzynski plays with a beautiful, singing tone, very nicely captured by the recording engineers. The sound of the piano has a clarity and realism to it which I have rarely heard on albums from this era. I know of no better analog recording of these works which is presented as finely (though I'd love to hear your suggestions if you disagree with this claim).
For those of you who are interested in exploring Malcuzynski's work further, I just found out today that Warner Classics (new owner of EMI Classics) will be releasing an 8 CD boxed set in the Icon series completely dedicated to Malcuzynski's EMI recordings. This is set to be released next month, and I think it will be a very nice addition to the series, since some of these recordings, to my knowledge, have never before been released on CD. I'll be reserving my copy!