Rubinstein was the ultimate concert pianist. He played 100-plus engagements a year for some seven decades. Of all great pianists, Rubinstein was perhaps the least fussy. His playing, even at its greatest and most exciting, could be almost disconcertingly straightforward. For all his much-vaunted showmanship, he was a musician first and a virtuoso second. But despite his lifelong claims to the contrary, his virtuosity was formidable . . . The most characteristic features of Rubinstein's playing were his rich, and richly varied tone, his uncanny ability to 'sing' melodic lines over great stretches of time – and to project them throughout the largest halls – and his all-pervasive command of rhythm . . . this release makes for a very moving experience.So this DVD paints the regal close of a colossal reign: as indicated, the bonus is a delight, and you'll never hear more opulent, more exhilarating performances of these three pet concertos. Heartily recommended for all viewers. Including folks who normally avoid classical music.
It's a shame Rubinstein didn't record more of Mozart's music, for his obvious affinity for the composer shines through these 1958-1960 stereo recordings of five concertos. Rubinstein's Mozart is forthright–he refuses to sentimentalize by swooning over the music's beauties or to indulge in larger-than-life playing that would rupture its classical framework. Even in the famous Andante of the 21st Concerto, his melting legato traces the curve of the melody without excess. Moderation was his byword, so while there are times one could wish for over-the-top risk taking–a more unbuttoned Allegro of the K. 453, a tad more melodrama in the first movement of the K. 466, some extra sizzle in the outer movements of K. 488–what we have is built to last for the long term. These are performances you can't get tired of. There's a general sense of rightness about tempo choices, and everything, from the singing tone to the exquisite phrasing to the perfectly managed transitions, reflects a master pianist playing music he feels deeply. The accompaniments are fine and the transfers significantly improved over past issues.
"This is absolutely the best recording of Frederic Chopin's Piano Concertos! I heard many recordings of these familiar works (for example: Zimmermann, Polish Festival Orchestra, DG), but this recording beats my all old favorites. (…) This is excellent purchase for all classical music lovers! It is very good, that Living Stereo label publishes old masterful recordings on multi-channel SACD! Incredible!" ~sa-cd.net
Joseph Moog is a young pianist with a superb technique and a warm tone. He also composes. On this album, he interestingly pairs concertos by two of Russia’s foremost pianist-composers. Anton Rubinstein’s Fourth Piano Concerto actually was in Rachmaninoff’s repertory as a soloist. Drawing attention to the neglected Rubinstein concerto by following it with a more famous work is a device that certainly is welcome. The opening movement of the Rubinstein is heavily influenced by Schumann’s piano concerto, particularly its first movement. Moog here takes on the mantle of the Schumannesque lyric poet, his tonal palette featuring halftones of grays and browns. Moog’s second movement is a true andante , or walking tempo, unlike some other performances. He plays the affecting opening melody simply and directly, introducing a shadow of melancholy that he sustains beautifully throughout the movement.
Tchaikovsky wrote four works for piano and orchestra: the three concertos, and the Concert Fantasy in G Op.56 (1884). The First Concerto ranks today as possibly the most famous piano concerto ever composed. Its entry into the world was, however, far from easy. Dismissed by critics as a flop, and by its dedicatee Nikolai Rubinstein as unplayable – which caused a rift between Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky, the concerto was premiered in Boston in the USA in 1875, and the dedicatee was Hans von Bülow, who conducted the performance with Benjamin Johnson Lang as soloist. Its success was never in doubt from then on. Rubinstein relented and undertook to champion the concerto. It is a large, dramatic work with its roots firmly in the Chopin/Mendelssohn school.
Warm, lyrical, and aristocratic in his interpretations, Artur Rubinstein performed impressively into extremely old age, and he was a keyboard prodigy almost from the time he could climb onto a piano bench. He came from a mercantile rather than a musical family, but fixated on the piano as soon as he heard it.