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Michelangeli’s first recordings were made for HMV in Milan in 1939, following his win at the Geneva International Piano Competition.
In Granados’s Andaluza Michelangeli uses a soulful singing tone to great advantage, while his phenomenal virtuoso technique can be heard in Marescotti’s Fantasque, one of the test pieces for the Geneva Competition. These and the 1948 recordings of Bach, Galuppi and Brahms demonstrate that as a young man Michelangeli was already a consummate artist.
As a critic wrote about the recording of the Brahms Paganini Variations: “What a pianist! Technically, the playing is astonishing: interpretatively, here is a very great musician…altogether this is the most exciting piano performance and recording I have heard for many a long day.”
“Apollonian stance and awe-inspiring control….. The dynamic range reinforces the Lisztian patina of Michelangeli's conception….[a] ravishing, multi-layered sound world.” Classics Today
Johann Sebastian Bach: Concerto in the Italian Style, BWV 971, "Italian Concerto"
Johann Sebastian Bach: Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004: V. Chaconne (arr. F. Busoni)
Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004: V. Ciaccona (Chaconne) (arr. F. Busoni for piano)
Pellegrino Tomeoni: Allegro in G major
Allegro in G major
Baldassare Galuppi: Presto in B flat major
Presto in B flat major
Domenico Scarlatti: Keyboard Sonata in D major, K.96/L.465/P.210
Keyboard Sonata in D major, K.96/L.465/P.210
Domenico Scarlatti: Keyboard Sonata in B minor, K.27/L.449/P.83
Keyboard Sonata in B minor, K.27/L.449/P.83
Domenico Scarlatti: Keyboard Sonata in C minor, K.11/L.352/P.67
Keyboard Sonata in C minor, K.11/L.352/P.67
Domenico Scarlatti: Keyboard Sonata in D minor, K.9/L.413/P.65
Keyboard Sonata in D minor, K.9/L.413/P.65
Johannes Brahms: 28 Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Op. 35
Recuerdos de viaje, Op. 71: No. 8. Rumores de la Caleta, Malaguena
Federico Mompou: Cancons i danses
Canco i dansa No. 1
“Was Michelangeli's best playing his earliest? Here's a remarkable artist - overwhelmingly masterful in Brahms's Paganini Variations, engaging in Bach, poetic in Scarlatti, impulsive and haunting in Granados and Albéniz.”
“Michelangeli ranks among the grandest of all musical autocrats. And when his transcendent mastery is complemented by warmth, wit and charm, such additions are beyond price. This is an issue that all lovers of great artistry will pounce on…”
“Michelangeli ranks among the grandest of all musical autocrats. And when his transcendent mastery is complemented by warmth, wit and charm, such additions are beyond price. Early in his career he possessed a Romantic as well as magisterial charisma, and listening to his performance of Bach's Italian Concerto with its wealth of colour, nuance and resilience is to be reminded that a human heart beat beneath that legendary froideur. What sparkle, too, in Tomeoni's G major Allegro and how he plays the arch-seducer to the manner born in Albé- niz's Malagueña. Granados's Andaluza is heavily but irresistibly personalised, all fun and fancyfree; hardly for lovers of a more 'correct' Spanish style, while Marescotti's Fantasque is spun off with a virtuosity as life-enhancing as it is thrilling. Michelangeli's reordering of the Brahms Paganini Variations is odd, but his performance remains of classic status. So, too, does his way with the Bach/Busoni Chaconne with his rapid tempi and lean, not-an-ounce-of-fat way with Busoni's maestoso instruction. This is an issue that all lovers of great artistry will pounce on, particularly when so enticingly offered on Naxos's bargain label.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.