Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Mahler symphony 6 Nott


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

Not available in the USA

Classicsonline Crotchet

 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Concerto no.2 in B flat major, op.83 (1881) [40:07]
((i) Allegro non troppo [14:35] (ii) Allegro appassionato [8:14] (iii) Andante [9:20] (iv) Allegretto grazioso [7:59])
Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Piano Concerto no.1 in B flat minor, op.23 (1874) [31:05]
((i) Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso [17:52] (ii) Andantino semplice [6:59] (iii) Allegro con fuoco [6:13])
Arthur Rubinstein (piano)
London Symphony Orchestra/Albert Coates (Brahms)
London Symphony Orchestra/John Barbirolli (Tchaikovsky)
rec. Kingsway Hall, London, October 1929 (Brahms); EMI Abbey Road Studio No.1, London, June 1932 (Tchaikovsky)
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.111271
[71:12]
Experience Classicsonline


I’ve just been watching the 1947 Hollywood film Carnegie Hall which, in spite of a mawkishly sentimental plot, features a mouth-watering line-up of cameo performances from Bruno Walter, Lily Pons, Gregor Piatigorsky, Risë Stevens, Artur Rodzinski, Jan Peerce, Ezio Pinza, Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Reiner, Leopold Stokowski – and Arthur Rubinstein.
 

Rubinstein, playing Chopin’s A-flat polonaise and De Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance, makes one of the strongest cinematic and musical impressions. Ramrod-backed, poker-faced and gazing from time to time into some ethereal middle distance, he is the very embodiment of the pianist as aristocratic artist. 

That image – carefully cultivated by his management and reaching its eventual apotheosis in a prestigious 94-CD Arthur Rubinstein Collection (“106 hours covering his entire recording career, fully remastered and packaged together in a unique, specially designed box”) – is one of two that remain in the public consciousness today. The other is, of course, that of the bon vivant and inveterate womaniser who, at the age of 83, began an affair with a young woman 60 years his junior.

But focusing exclusively on Rubinstein as a Grand Old Man of the piano is to overlook an earlier phase of his career when, if not exactly an enfant terrible, he frequently demonstrated a greater degree of flexibility, spontaneity and sheer joie de vivre than was sometimes later the case.

The two concertos presented here are cases in point. 

The Brahms, Rubinstein’s first recording of any concerto, emerges, in particular, with a distinctive celerity and lightness of touch. The speeds in three of the four movements are notably faster than those of his immediate contemporaries – let alone those of most performers today. Thus, the first movement clocks in at 14:35, compared to 15:53 (Schnabel, 1935), 16:04 (Backhaus, 1939) and 16:15 (Horowitz, 1940) and the same picture emerges from both the Andante and the concluding Allegretto grazioso. Only in the second movement Allegro appassionato does Rubinstein adopt a tempo comparable to that of his contemporaries (though not to that of post war soloists who have frequently tended to adopt a broader - if not, indeed, a more ponderous - style). 

This whole approach is, to modern ears, a novel and striking one that successfully offers an alternative viewpoint on a very familiar work. It is sad, therefore, that the original recording was not one of the best: Rubinstein later recalled how he was positioned way off at the back of the stage and the frequently acclaimed acoustics of Kingsway Hall seem, on this occasion at least and in spite of all Mark Obert-Thorn’s heroic efforts at restoration, to have been ineffectively reproduced on disc. 

The opening of the state-of-the-art Abbey Road studios in 1931 meant, however, that Rubinstein’s June 1932 recording of Tchaikovsky’s first concerto could be recorded in far superior and more immediate sound. Again, its abiding characteristic is innate elegance and sensitivity, coupled with a marked fleetness of foot. Rubinstein’s opening movement, for instance, clocks in at 17:52 – nearly two minutes less than Solomon’s acclaimed (and similarly un-barnstorming) 1929 recording with Hamilton Harty and the Hallé Orchestra – and, although the differentials in the other two movements are not as marked, the overall timings for the complete concerto come in at 31:05 for the Pole and 33:17 for the Briton. 

Of course, the improved Abbey Road sound also allows us to hear the orchestra more clearly and my initial impression was that Barbirolli’s accompaniment is a little anonymous and bland: why, for goodness sake, was Albert Coates, still highly regarded even today for his fiery interpretations of Russian music, not employed as he had been for the Brahms? But, on repeated listening, it becomes clear that Barbirolli’s approach is far more of a piece with Rubinstein’s overall conception of the work and that he was, indeed, the correct choice. 

This is certainly an important and worthwhile addition to Naxos Historical’s “Great Pianists” CDs. All the other performers and their recordings mentioned above are to be found among earlier releases in the series and it is now a particular pleasure to see Arthur Rubinstein joining them as a worthy member of this particular pianistic pantheon.

Rob Maynard




 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review 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.