ARTUR RUBINSTEIN MOSCOW RECITAL October 1, 1964
"THE FRENCH PIANO SCHOOL"
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15. Piano Concerto
No. 2 in B flat, Op. 19. Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37. Piano
No. 4 in G, Op. 58. Piano ConcertoNo. 5 in E flat, Op. 73 "Emperor."
This Rubinstein DVD is a gem—a concert recorded in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory October 1, 1964. Rubinstein was 77 at the time but his fingers were of steel. This is playing in the grand style and it is a pleasure to be able to watch the legendary pianist perform miracles. He has a memory lapse in the sonata (which he doubtless has played hundreds of times in concert), but finally gets it all together. I had the privilege of hearing him three times many years ago as soloist with .the Chicago Symphony playing Beethoven's Concerto No. 3, Rachmaninoff's Paganini Rhapsody and one of his few performances of Khachaturian's Concerto. Obviously he made an indelible impression on me, and seeing him perform on this DVD brought back those memories. His control is amazing; one wonders how he can be so accurate in repeated chords (as in the A-flat Polonaise) when he raises his hands very high above the keyboard. As a unique "bonus," Medici Arts offers the video of excerpts from two Chopin etudes filmed in 1928; it isn't clarified in the DVD booklet, but these are video only. A great release, essential for those who love the piano and its greatest masters.
More first-class pianism can be viewed on the Medici Arts disk called "The French Piano School," videos mostly from French television archives, filming dates as listed above. Vlado Perlemuter (1904-2002) studied with Moszkowski and Cortot, was a friend of Ravel's and studied with him all of the composer's music. He continued to perform until he was 98! What a pleasure it is to watch his masterful performance of Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand recorded in radio studios in Paris. He achieves remarkable effects without any pretentious posturing or exaggerated mannerisms. The Ravel Toccata and two Chopin pieces were recorded in London two years earlier; on-screen identification for the two Chopin works are reversed. Yvonne Lefébure (1898-1986) also was a student of Cortot, and her students included Samson Françoise and Dinu Lipatti. There are few recordings by her, a loss for the musical world based on this penetrating performance of Beethoven's Sonata No. 31. Robert Casadesus (1899-1972) can be seen in a casual performance of Fauré's Theme and Variations recorded in the pianist's home (he makes comments from time to time). Hepzibah Menuhin, Yehudi's sister (1920-1981), is best known as a human rights campaigner, but she did have a concert career as well as can be heard in these Schubert waltzes. The DVD ends with a Chopin Nocturne played by Dino Ciani, also recorded in Paris.
Murray Perahia's highly-praised commercial CBS/Sony recordings of all five Beethoven piano concertos were made from 1983-1986 in Amsterdam with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink. On unspecified dates in 1988, Perahia performed this music in concert with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields directed by Sir Neville Marriner in London's Royal Festival Hall. These solid performances can be seen on Medici Arts' new 2-disk set. Video and audio are fine; no attempt has been made to provide "surround" sound. A quality release!
R.E.B. (January 2009)