Veteran Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder has turned in mid-career to live recordings, believing that the live situation makes possible a greater degree of spontaneity. In solo repertoire this has sometimes led him to follow his impulses into bold, unexpected interpretations. Here, in Beethoven's five piano concertos, there's less of an opportunity to color outside of the lines, even though Buchbinder serves as his own conductor (a tall order in Beethoven in itself). Yet his approach still works very well. He may deserve credit right off the bat for getting the sometimes recalcitrant Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to go along with what he's doing; the performances have a satisfying unity between soloist and orchestra.
Known for his intense, insightful interpretations of the classical repertoire, Rudolf Serkin was one of the great American pianists of the mid-century, and seldom was he more in his element than when playing Mozart. This new six-CD release unites for the first time fourteen Mozart concerto recordings made at the height of his career, between 1951 and 1977. His is not a raised-little-finger type of Mozart; it is rugged, has contour, and is a welcome relief from the pretty-pretty conceptions heard only too often , wrote Gramophone of a 1955 recording with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra and Alexander Schneider. With the same orchestra, Serkin is ideally matched (AllMusic Guide) with conductor George Szell; elsewhere he partners Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as Pablo Casals at the cellist-conductor s festival in Perpignan for No. 22 ( exultant and miraculous BBC Music Magazine). Recordings from the Marlboro Festival include the Concerto No. 10 for two pianos with his then-teenage son Peter Serkin.
This new recording of…the great D minor, K466, made last November with the LSO under Abbado, is immensely welcome. The old magic is still there: the ability to make every semiquaver in a run count: the way he can invest even quite 'innocent' music…with real meaning and character; the pathos and lyricism he brings to the slow movements; and the tension and drama he reveals in the outer movements of K466.