Artur Rubinstein, piano ADD RCA/BMG CD "Rubinstein
Miguel Baselga, piano BIS 500773
Jean-François Heisser plays clearly, precisely
and effectively and receives very good digital stereo recording.
Since this is originally an Erato release some of the titles of
the works are given in French.
The Rubinstein recordings are monophonic, from
the 1940s, and sound somewhat rough by modern standards, although
they have been lovingly restored, including some hand retouching
of the dynamic range. I do it myself; if it’s OK for art restorers
it’s OK for music restorers! I just hope I’m a little more subtle
Rubinstein’s unerring theatrical instincts project
this music most effectively in spite of dated sound, and if all
you want are the Three Cornered Hat and the Love is
a Sorcerer excerpts Rubinstein is your best choice. That disk
also includes ‘Nights in the Gardens of Spain’ with Golschmann
conducting, a superb (monophonic) recording by two masters of
concerto repertoire, as well as some music by other Spanish composers.
The Baselga recording contains only the complete solo piano music,
not any theater music transcriptions.
I don’t mean to say Heisser isn’t quite good
on the theatre piece transcriptions, it’s just that he respects
them musically and declines to make sacrifices for effect. Nor
does he have quite the heart of deLarrocha or the roiling sensuality
of Miguel Baselga. He plays the unfamiliar solo works, the Fantasía
Bética and the anthologies of short pieces, quite effectively,
although his technique is just a little strained here and there
in the fantastically difficult Fantasía (commissioned,
incidentally, by Rubinstein).
The theatre piece transcriptions were apparently
written out after the orchestral works were composed, and the
Homenajes were eventually orchestrated, that for Debussy
being originally a guitar work.
As with Naxos releases, the track list is only
on the back of the jewelcase and is not repeated in the program
booklet (although a page of advertising is included) which makes
for two-handed reading during listening.