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Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3 / Michelangeli, Giulini
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He leaves his competitors lagging far behind. Mostly because ABM's approach is totally Beethovenian, it is the first and only time this concerto is played with all the bravura, heroism, dramatism, sincerely conveying Beethoven's passionate feelings.
Most pianist approach the first three piano concertos as if they were sort of Mozartian. Plenty of examples: Maurizio Pollini, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Martha Argerich, Vladimir Horowitz, Emil Gilels, even the great Sviatoslav Richter. They believe that all compositions classified as belonging to Beethoven's early compositions are to be seen as rather immature, and consequently bearing the stamp of 18th century classicism. The C major concerto is Op. 15. The Pathetique piano sonata is Op.13. Now has anybody ever heard the Pathetique has been labelled immature?
Or Mozartian, or even Early? Nonsense. Beethoven was 28 when he finished Op. 15, a wholly mature composer. And so does ABM understand: he plays it as a grand concerto; he is right, it is a great piano concerto, one of the greatest.
All the approach is incredible: scales sound so breathtakingly as if you were in a roller-coaster or skiing down the Monte Bianco (let's remember, in passing, ABM was a ski champion). Trills are also so giddy you wonder how ABM manages to keep his balance. His tempo, few rallentandi, are fascinating, his expression incomparable, his sound loudness control marvelous, he sounds colourful, deep, in total mastery. In my opinion it is not only by far the best rendition of the C major piano concerto, it is also high quality music. I rank this CD as the best music I have in my collection.Read more ›
Late in his career, Michelangeli found a soul mate in Giulini, both committed to old-fashioned, intense, personal musicmaking. The First concerto starts off broadly, and one imagines this will be an exercise in patience, but the minute Michelangeli enters, you can't help but be riveted. It's not that he employs fireworks a la Horowitz--if anything, the playing is fairly relaxed. It's all in the pianist's total command of each note, thanks to his legendary touch. The simplest scale is completely captivating. (It was a regular habit of Michelangeli's to choose 'simple' music like this concerto, which even a good student can manage, just to hypnotize the audience with his artistry.)
The Third concerto is cut form the same cloth. It's soulful, reticent, and deeply felt. Since the keyboard writing is more difficult in this work, we get to hear the magic he could pull off in terms of balance and tone. I don't know how many listeners exist for this kind of music-making, but I'm very grateful that it has been preserved on records.
Concerto n.1: Perhaps the best of the set, this reading is completely Beethovenian and highlights the composer's idiosyncrasies, which Haydn--quite surprisingly--disliked in his pupil's first set of piano sonatas (op.2). Michelangeli's sound and dynamic control are magisterial. There are plenty of moments to cherish throughout; and any reviewer would have a hard time deciding which points to highlight. Nevertheless, the first movement's cadenza, the phrasing of the entire second movement, and the lilt and gaiety of the third--especially the bounce of the theme of the rondo, which most pianists play slovenly, disregarding Beethoven's careful phrasing markings, which confer a characteristic 'bounce' to the theme--cannot but remain engraved in any listener's minds. Under Giulini's baton, the orchestra is perfectly paced and is both thrilling and immensely expressive.
Concerto n.3: The tempo of the concerto is appropriately slower than usual: the cut time on most printed scores score is a misprint, for it is not contained in the manuscript. Consequently, this reading is highly tragic and elegiac. Michelangeli, as often was the case in live performances, is in supreme form, with a sound whose suggestive beauty is unique. The first movement is permeated by a looming gravity that is both solemn and hovers impeccably--stylistically--between Classical and Romantic. The concerto op.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the hi-resolution remastering so the sound is at least half decent. The world's best orchestra is best appreciated in other recordings than this though, which is thick and... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Arne Sande
I've heard the argument that these concertos are supposed to sprite, lively, youthful and light. I think they can be played that way or you can have the immensely rhythmic,... Read morePublished 21 months ago by ConTroppo
,,, or it would be, if it weren't Michelangeli. Passion plus precision, heart plus discipline. You won't find better performances of these concerti.Published on February 4, 2014 by Peter Flynn
By far - the best performance of these two concertos I've ever heard. I would have loved to give it a sixth star.Published on June 17, 2013 by Ela Green
I have old LP and cassette versions of the Concerto #1 and something has gone wrong, in my view, with this CD version. Read morePublished on June 11, 2006 by W. C. Rice
This is a wonderful CD, at an excellent price. The interpretation of the First Piano Concerto does allow Beethoven to be Beethoven, as another reviewer has remarked. Read morePublished on May 26, 2002 by Gontroppo
Oh, dear friends, after reading the reviews that preceed this minor contribution by your fair simpleton, where to begin? Read morePublished on April 6, 2002 by HarryKerryJr