Friday, June 24, 2011

Rubinstein – Beethoven: 5 Piano Concertos

Artur Rubinstein, legendary interpreter of nineteenth century music recorded complete of five Beethoven’s piano concertos three times. And every time for RCA Victor Company. First complete set of Beethoven’s concerti artist recorded in 1958 with Symphony of the Air conducted by Joseph Krips became great artistic success. Second rendition of Beethoven’s concerti cycle artist recorded in 1970 with Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Erich Leinsdorf. For the last time complete of five concerti Artur Rubinstein performed five years later, in 1975 with London Philharmonic Orchestra lead by Daniel Barenboim. He also recorded some piano sonatas and violin sonatas with Henryk Szeryng. 
Artur Rubinstein’s connection with Beethoven’s piano works has its reasons. He studied at the turn of the century. These times Beethoven was valued as musical genius beyond every compare. And this was main reason for regular presence of his music in concert programs where it was played with romantic touch and emphasized emotions. Just the same as music of romantic composers, Chopin, Brahms, Liszt and Rachmaninoff. Rubinstein was naturally the type of romantic virtuoso focused on dramatic and visionary elements of musical work.

Rubinstein – Beethoven: 5 Piano Concertos (1970)

Cycle recorded in 1970 is quite different from earlier pianist renditions. Great success of more than decade earlier recordings indicate Rubinstein as best interpreter when RCA projected this monumental edition. Boston Symphony Orchestra and Erich Leinsdorf, resident conductor of the orchestra in sixties also were the meaningful choice. Soloist and orchestra sound surprisingly solemn and profound. According to well grounded cliché Boston Symphony was most classical orchestra in America. And this 4 LP set is next prove of versatility and emotional capacity of classical style.
Such attitude was understandable in 1970 – during recording sessions to commemorate internationally celebrated Beethoven Year in 200 anniversary of composer’s birthday. Complete five concerti are diversified, first two have more classical touch, what sometimes lead to playing them in typical Mozart concerti manner. In this performance Concerto C Major is more like forecast of closing whole cycle Concerto E-flat Major. Artists build stable construction of exact phrasing, in some points more symphonic than concertante. Second Concerto has more classical touch, especially in Rondo, what means softly and more precisely finished phrases and harmonic passages, but is still enough distant from Mozart’s style.
Third concerto is dramatically determined. There were some connections with light brilliant style Rubinstein showed in his 12 years earlier recording. In 1970 recording such stylistic tendencies are hard to find. Erich Leinsdorf, who in the same time recorded complete Beethoven’s symphonies, in concerti sized up with symphonic tradition of great Vienna composer. The effect are astonishingly profound and intellectually proved performances. In Piano Concerto No 4 G Major this symphonic manner is even more readable. Conductor is leading orchestra consequently to objective rendition and this attitude gives soloist almost unlimited interpretative possibilities. Emotions of Concerto G Major op. 58 are related to Fourth Symphony B-flat Major op. 60 which was premiered at the same evening at Prinz Franz Joseph von Lobkovitz home. Closing whole cycle Concerto E-flat Major op. 73 is once again a serious dealing with classical form and romantic impressionability. This performance is the master interpretation for perfect concerto. And Emperor Concerto is undoubtedly one of very few of this kind in the history of music.

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