Top 5: Michael Boriskin



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Michael Boriskin is artistic and executive director of Copland House, Aaron Copland’s Cortlandt Manor landmark home, and is also an accomplished pianist. He has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Théâtre de Champs-Élysées in Paris, on the BBC in London, etc. Here, Boriskin selects those seminal piano CDs that should be on every piano-lover’s personal playlist.




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Photo by Richard Bowditch

1) Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff
BMG–RCA Victor Seal 09026-61658-2
(Originally recorded 1929-1941)
“No other recording so extensively offers a supreme composer and a stupendous pianist in one and the same person,” Boriskin says. “Rachmaninoff shows us how his beloved compositions are really meant to be played!”

2) Sviatoslav Richter: The Sofia Recital 1958
Philips Classics 289464 734-2
(Recorded live 1958)
The mercurial and unpredictable Russian virtuoso Sviatoslav Richter was at the peak of his career when he gave this concert in Bulgaria. “That this was an unedited live performance is further proof of his superhuman gifts,” says Boriskin, who calls Richter’s performance of Mussorgsky’s popular Pictures at an Exhibition “overwhelming, mesmerizing, and flawless.”


3) William Kapell in Performance
Music & Arts B000050HYU
(Originally issued 1949)
“This CD features two classical masterpieces—Brahms’s first piano concerto and Prokofiev’s third—in performances that show the young pianist in top form,” he says. Boriskin calls Kapell’s playing here “white-hot yet meticulous, ardent yet poised, and spellbinding at all times.”

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4) Live at the Village Vanguard: Chucho Valdés
Blue Note 7243-5-20730-23
(Recorded live 1999)
Boriskin is a great fan of Afro-Cuban jazz great Chucho Valdés. “These dynamic performances are alive in every way. They are dazzling and endlessly imaginative, display tremendous stamina and sly wit, and are propelled by an infectious rhythmic drive.”


5) Beethoven: The Late Sonatas
Nonesuch B000005IZMRichard Goode, pianist
(Recorded 1992)
Musician Richard Goode always has represented the best of modern-day pianism for Boriskin, who says his performances combine “scrupulous musicianship, profound understanding, rich expressivity, high intellect, and complete pianistic command.” This two-CD set includes Beethoven’s five last piano sonatas. “Goode has always been at his best in demanding music like this.”


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