Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Concertos - No. 1 in C, Op. 15a; No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37b.
Artur Rubinstein (piano); Boston Symphony Orchestra/Erich Leinsdorf.
[ADD] [72'00] Recorded in Symphony Hall, Boston on aOctober 20th-21st, 1967, bApril 5th-6th, 1965.

RCA RED SEAL The Rubinstein Collection 09026 63057-2

Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS  
Amazon recommendations


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 brief cadenza.

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 interpretations.

  Colin Clarke

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: