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This release is the first in a series devoted to Arthur Rubinstein’s ‘middle period’ Chopin cycle, recorded from the mid-1940s through the mid-1950s.
Long admired by Rubinstein aficionados, these interpretations (the pianist’s second of both works) have been said to combine the fire and youthful exuberance of his 1930s recordings with the greater maturity and structural coherence that characterize his final stereo tapings.
The 1946 Carnegie Hall recording of Concerto No. 2 boasts excellent sound quality due to the use of lacquer discs later transferred to tape for LP release.
"Rubinstein is one of the most elegant of all Chopin pianists. He has a sense of stylistic ease and distinction that is almost patrician.” MusicWeb International
Fryderyk Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11
I. Allegro maestoso
II. Romanza: Larghetto
III. Rondo: Vivace
Fryderyk Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21
III. Allegretto vivace
“…these are astonishing performances, occasionally, particularly in the F minor Concerto, content simply to astonish. In the E minor Concerto… Rubinstein is altogether more subtle, following his characteristic exuberance and extroversion with playing of a rapt magic and delicacy.”
“Mercifully uncut, unlike Rubinstein's previous discs of both concertos with Barbirolli, these are astonishing performances, occasionally, particularly in the Second Concerto, content simply to astonish. Here there is an almost arrogant dismissal of all difficulties and a prima donna stance sometimes hard to square with some of Chopin's more delicate and ornate confidences. In the scintillating coda Rubinstein takes his bravura to a spine-tingling edge, but in, for example, the Larghetto's central storms there is a brusque, streamlined indifference to the music's finer qualities. In the First Concerto, while recognisably the same pianist, Rubinstein is altogether more subtle, following his characteristic exuberance and extroversion with playing of a rapt magic and delicacy. The music may be sent smartly on its way by both conductor and soloist, but the patrician ease, nonchalant glitter and authority of Rubinstein's playing are uniquely his to command. These are both extraordinary performances by an extraordinary pianist though of the two, the First Concerto is the more affecting. Mark Obert-Thorn's restoration of the 1953 sound is a model of remastery though even he cannot make the 1946 Second Concerto sound less than cramped.”
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