Monday, April 13, 2015

Happy Birthday, Gregor Piatigorsky!

Unsigned cover design for Columbia MX-258
This Friday, April 17, marks the 112th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century, Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976). For a musician of his stature, he left far too few solo recordings - a handful for German Odeon in the late 1920s, all of short pieces, and a somewhat more substantial batch for HMV in the 30s (including a Beethoven sonata with Schnabel, and a Brahms with Rubinstein). But it wasn't until the 40s, when he came to America, and signed on with Columbia, that more of an effort was made to commit his repertoire to disc. These two sonata recordings are among the fruits of that association:

Beethoven: Sonata No. 5 in D Major, Op. 102, No. 2
Gregor Piatigorsky, cello; Ralph Berkowitz, piano
Recorded June 6, 1945
Columbia Masterworks MX-258, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 39.14 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 30.53 MB)

Brahms: Sonata No. 2 in F Major, Op. 99
Gregor Piatigorsky, cello; Ralph Berkowitz, piano
Recorded May 28, 1947
Columbia Masterworks ML-2096, one 10-inch LP record
Link (FLAC files, 66.00 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 44.94 MB)

Almost twice as much music was recorded by Piatigorsky for Columbia as was actually released. There were unissued versions of the Grieg, Debussy and Barber sonatas - this last-named, Columbia actually went so far as to assign a set number for (MM-737), and both Piatigorsky and Barber were eager to have it released. My guess is that a suitable filler side could not be agreed upon. These sonata recordings finally saw the light of day in 2010, with the issue of a six-CD set by West Hill Radio Archives, a set that is indispensable for lovers of Piatigorsky's art, and which, when last I checked, was being sold at Berkshire Record Outlet at a reduced price.


  1. Alternate links:

    Beethoven FLAC:

    Beethoven MP3:

    Brahms FLAC:

    Brahms MP3:

  2. Very nice! Thanks for sharing, Bryan!