Peter Serkin: Complete RCA Album Collection

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In 1965, Peter Serkin began a long association with RCA Victor. Sony Classical is now proud to present all of Peter Serkin’s recordings for both labels in a single box set.

He achieved notoriety in America in the 1970s as the young, rebellious, hippie-clad scion of a legendary musical dynasty: the son of pianist Rudolf Serkin, and grandson of violinist Adolf Busch. But before that, and far more significantly, Peter Serkin, born in New York in 1947 and a student of Mieczyslaw Horszowski as well as his father at the Curtis Institute, had already established himself as a prodigiously gifted pianist and musical thinker in his own right, regularly appearing from age twelve in solo recitals and concerts.

It was in 1962 that he made his earliest recordings of concertos, sonatas, and other works by Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Reger, and Busoni for Columbia Masterworks, even playing harpsichord continuo in Pablo Casals’s famous set of the Brandenburg Concertos.

Sony Classical’s remastered 35-disc release of Peter Serkin’s complete RCA and Columbia/Sony discography can only further enhance the already iconic reputation of this “brilliant instrumentalist, sensitive, original interpreter and performer of uncommon vitality” (Michael Steinberg).

Note: Peter Serkin was closely involved in the preparation for this edition but sadly did not live to see its release. He died on February 1, 2020 at his home in Red Hook, N. Y.

Past praise of recordings collected in this set:

Bach's Goldberg Variations (1965):

This is one of the most enjoyable performances of the Goldberg Variations on piano I have heard. Like his illustrious father, he has such a superb finger technique and such an intellectual grasp of how the music must go that the problems simply melt away. A version which knows what the Goldberg is and gets its stature across.

– Gramophone (1965)

Schubert: Piano Sonata No. 18 (1965):

His performance is immeasurably moving, and destined to become an important landmark in the career of a memorable artist.

– High Fidelity (1966)

Bartók: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3 / Serkin, Ozawa, CSO:

These two performances really deserve a home in the collection of anyone who cares about this music. With the Chicago Symphony in top form, the team blazes through the percussive First Concerto with take-no-prisoners gusto, especially in the finale. The Third Concerto sounds as fresh as the day it was written.


Schoenberg: Music with Piano (1967):

Peter Serkin is a magnificent Schoenberg player. His warmer view of the music helps the Piano Concerto as a whole. Much credit is also due in the new version to Ozawa and the Chicago orchestra. It would be difficult to over-praise his performance of the Five Piano Pieces, Op. 23.

– Gramophone

Beethoven: Concerto for Piano, Op. 61a / Serkin, Ozawa, CSO (1969)

This is a genuinely lyrical, moving musical experience, not a dusty curio arrangement. Serkin’s delicate yet iron-firm sonority is full of ravishing color and nuance. Everything about the playing breathes and stimulates.

– High Fidelity

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations (1979):

Peter Serkin matches his father's famous 1957 benchmark for scrupulous pianism and attention to musical details. Yet the latter’s gaunt energy and fierce cumulative impact contrasts to the younger Serkin’s overall intimacy, lightness of touch, and subtle nuances within soft dynamic parameters. The authority and stature of a master pianist/interpreter unquestionably informs this highly recommendable release.


Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 14–19 / Serkin, Schneider, ECO (1973):

I have heard no other pianist who seems to follow every pulse of this Mozartean vitality quite as beautifully as Peter Serkin, and the combined efforts of Serkin fils with Alexander Schneider and the English Chamber Orchestra on this set form very simply one of the most important contributions to the Mozart discography.

– High Fidelity

Messiaen: Visons de l'amen / Serkin, Takahashi (1970):

This stunning account is informed throughout by a burning intensity. Both pianists have the harmonic sense which causes Messiaen’s chords to glow like the stained-glass which he numbers as one of the influences on his music.

– Gramophone

Messiaen: Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus (1973)

This monumental cycle sounds more wonderful than ever as played by Peter Serkin. Messiaen’s harmonic colours take on a luminous quality under his fingers; the rhythmic ostinati are imperiously compelling; the dynamic range, immense, yet always within musical bounds; the total effect, overwhelming.

– Gramophone

Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time / Serkin, TASHI (1975):

Messiaen’s music in general has a marked non-Western orientation definitely in tune with modern sensibilities, and pianist Peter Serkin and the TASHI group supremely represent these sensibilities, perhaps coming closest of any group to communicating the often impassioned emotional depths of the work as well as its technical brilliance. The performance is particularly inspired. Serkin weights and balances every harmony perfectly, and the recording, which is of exceptional quality, captures the double fortissimo of his piano in the bass register as clearly as Ida Kavafian’s violin harmonics. Richard Stoltzman’s solo clarinet in ‘Abime des oiseaux’ is as evocative as any, with honeyed timbre throughout an immense range, and the string solos both have the sustained expressiveness that carries the listener spellbound along their slow melodic stream. A marvellous Messiaen record, both in terms of performance and recording.

– High Fidelity

Takemitsu: Music for Piano Solo / Serkin:

Serkin certainly brings a special air of authority to the music, and his playing has a spaciousness and sense of breadth. The sheer control and variety of his playing, particularly in one of the finest early pieces, Piano Distance, is irresistible.

– Gramophone

Product Description:

  • Release Date: June 19, 2020

  • Catalog Number: 19439713872

  • UPC: 194397138726

  • Label: Sony Music Entertainment

  • Number of Discs: 35

  • Performer: Peter Serkin