One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor Op.15
Arthur Rubinstein (piano)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
Recorded at Orchestra Hall, April 17th 1954


This famous recording will be very familiar. It has been serially re-released and owners of RCA 09026 61263-2 (about a decade old now) and RD85668 (somewhat older still) will pause only to note that it now comes under the aegis of SACD, though Iíve as yet only been able to listen on an ordinary set-up.

The old deficiencies of the original studio recording still remain. In the tradition of pianistic and violinistic lions Rubinstein was heroically over recorded. In his later, very frail recording in Israel with Mehta the over recording was such as to decimate orchestral themes under a welter of (fallible Ė he was then eighty-nine) piano passagework. Here things are very much better but the imbalance should be noted even though it was quite deliberate. Reinerís accompaniment has stood the wither of historical scrutiny. His delineation of separate choirs is magisterial, his breadth and implacable rhythm never harden or congeal. In matters of rhythm indeed he is a master. Rubinsteinís pianism is noble and dignified, powerfully sensitive and without exaggeration. Lyricism flows but is held in proper balance and the warmth of the slow movement never cloys. Here one feels a certain refinement of spirit and sensibility even though the close up RCA sound makes a true pianissimo difficult. And itís this, in the end, that marginally relegates this recording, despite the beauty of tone and the capricious and wittily pointed finale. And despite a finale in which Rubinstein never uses too much pedal Ė he makes his points with magical refinement.

As with an earlier release (RD85668) the Concerto comes without any coupling. RCA 09026 61263-2 included some solo Brahms, pieces from Opp. 76, 79 and 118 but this SACD has reverted to the earlier model, which I find a pity. Still, the performance is profoundly impressive, and constitutes Rubinsteinís greatest recording of this Concerto.

Jonathan Woolf


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus

September 2022
Nikolai Medtner
Herbert Blomstedt
Tarrodi Four Elements
Secret Love Letters
Lisa Batiashvili



Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
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.