Coolness characterises these performances of two Beethoven
concertos, taken from Rubinstein's second recorded cycle. The 'con brio'
indication of the first movement of the First Concerto is seldom in
evidence: the piano's entrance is on the lazy side and seems to set
the agenda for the interpretation as a whole. The orchestra, also, seem
to be having an off day, so that when drama finally appears towards
the end of this movement it comes far too late to project any of the
sheer dynamism of Beethoven's invention. Similarly, the 'Largo' is not
touching enough, tending toward the literal despite the best efforts
of the woodwind (particularly the eloquent solo clarinet) to elevate
matters. The over-brisk tempo hardly helps.
The finale nearly captures Beethoven's humour.
It just misses because its speed is sluggish, being just slightly under-tempo
and in need of being lighter-of-foot.
Rubinstein played the C minor Concerto more often that
any of the others. At 17'25, the first movement seems decidedly on the
slow side. Even the wind, this time, seem dragged down by the whole
affair: the clarinet second subject is decidedly four-square. Matters
improve in the poetic slow movement and some signs of life appear in
the finale. Rubinstein even achieves a modicum of spontaneity in the
The sleeve note helpfully includes a note by Max Willcox
on Rubinstein's choice of cadenzas: the last of Beethoven's cadenzas
for the first movement of the First Concerto (and the only one Beethoven
wrote for the first movement of the Third). Both are in Busoni's editions.
Both performances represent Beethoven on the back burner.
The heat rarely gets turned up, leading to uncharacteristically leaden