25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2010
I'm not a great fan of Michelangeli (I often find his style of pianism too cold and clinical particularly in solo piano repertoire), but I must admit, this EMI stereo recording of Ravel's G major Concerto is truly in the class of its own and has never been surpassed yet as far as I've known.
In the outer movements, the pianist pushes the technical boundary to the limit and the dazzling tone he produces penetrates even the thickest of orchestral texture. It is astounding, he manages to articulate every note on the score even in the boldest sweep of the most difficult passages. In comparison, the modern performances by Zimerman, Yundi Li, Thibaudet, Roge, Lortie and etc sound too tame and spineless. And the uncompromising tonal refinement and the noble beauty, in the slow movement, transcend all the existing recorded performances. Time seems to stand still in the sheer sublimity of his playing.
The performance of Rachmaninov's 4th concerto is no less impressive. Again the outer movements are played with amazing clarity and totally gripping. In the slow movement, he captures the full-blooded Romanticism and poetry of the music like no other pianists. I've come to love this concerto as much as 2nd and 3rd, thanks to this revelatory account by Michelangeli.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2011
There is a general consensus that Michelangeli's Rachmaninov #4 is the greatest performance of piano music ever recorded. Simply stated, it is the musical equivalent of the Sistine Chapel. Although the Rachmaninov #4 is not the most popular of piano concertos, Michelangeli's performance is "superhuman", almost godlike in its majestic grandeur and authority. No other recording of this or any other piano concerto comes close, not even Richter's legendary recording of the Rachmaninov #2 nor Zimerman's perfect recording of the Liszt #2.
In this astonishing performance, Michelangeli raises the outer limits of pianistic accomplishment and artistic expression to a level no other performer has ever achieved.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This disc, recorded in 1957, has withstood the ravages of time as a recording and surpassed most, if not all, alternative performances ever since. This is a very rare accomplishment indeed, especially considering the quality of the competition. At the time of the recording this record was remarkable not only for the performances and the recording quality achieved by EMI. It was also remarkable for the program content as the Rachmaninov concerto was a wild card to say the least back then. It still remains a relative rarity today so this was a most unusual programming decision.
In the event the programming choice was inspirational and has remained unique ever since. The remastered sound from 2000 is astonishing in its freshness, range and fidelity. There is increased 'presence' and depth throughout and this is immediately apparent with the opening whip-crack in the Ravel which now grabs the attention as it should rather than being distantly apologetic as it relatively was. There is no reason to hesitate on that score.
The Ravel performance is comprehensively fine with the climactic moments at white heat contrasted with moments where time simply seems to stand still. Michelangeli's famed technique is here heard to marvellous effect - the trills moving like flowing water in the first movement never fail to astound for example. Much the same can be said of the Rachmaninov which comes over as quite the equal of the earlier and more popular concertos in its creative flair. Rachmaninov pushing the boundaries well away from the lush romanticism of the second or third concerto but still totally involving given a performance such as this.
I would suggest that anyone even remotely interested in the two concertos in this program, or even just one of them, would benefit by giving this disc some serious consideration. Generations of collectors cannot all be wrong!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli has been not only one the most prominent pianists of his generation; but besides he has become a true icon of the piano. His inimitable panache, the acurate phrasing and sheer commitment around everything he played produced a sound, a color. Like a painter of the Renaissance his interpretations owe a sort of magical effluvium and presence through the time.
This album captures A.B.M a his late thrities (38 by then)with a repertoire of two genuine Amabassadors of the music of the early decades of the XX Century, such Ravel and Rachmaninov were.
With the very exception of the unsurpassed version made by Samson Francois, Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major performance possesses all what you demand. Flair, Dionysian jauntiness, tonal splendor and supreme vitality.
Rachmaninov's Fourth Piano Concerto still constitutes (at least to my mind) a neglected and overlooked work. By motives absolutely unexplainable, this superb piece has been relegated for many great pianists, but fortunately Michelangeli was aware its genuine grandness despite the lack of popularity of thier other twho brothers (2 and 3). Benedetti conjugates admirably the enraptured musicality that blends that introspective lyricism blended hovered by dark clouds of melancholy covered by intense outbusts of energy.
This album must be placed at the top of the fifty greatest recordings of the Century. Not only a must buy. It's a quintessential item in your invaluable collection.
I had heard about this recording for decades, but being satisfied with Argerich, Ashkenazy, Hough, and others, I had never got round to buying it until recently. Well, it's everything that it was reputed to be -- the playing is superb, full of energy, wit, charm, and warmth (not always associated with Michelangeli), and once again, I was surprised at how much I liked the Rachmaninov Fourth, which I had tended to overlook in my explorations of this composer. The Ravel is the more satisfying performance here, not because of any defect in the pianism but rather because it suffers less -- being less densely scored -- from the limitations of the 1957 sound. That sound is very good for its age -- and Victor Olof ensures a fine balance and attention to the solo winds in the Ravel -- and the slow movement of the Ravel is simply beautifully presented, with the cor anglais and flute most eloquent in their music, with the piano rippling away below. Michelangeli's playing of the long opening solo section of that movement is beyond criticism: absolutely compelling. The playing in the outer movements is about as sheerly enjoyable as it could be, and Michelangeli seems very much at home with it all.
The Rachmaninov Fourth is more sparely scored than his earlier concertos, and while there are moments that remind you of the Romantic richness of this composer's earlier work, the effect here is altogether jazzier -- Gershwin-like climactic moments in the outer movements especially -- and propulsive in a way that resembles Prokofiev. The orchestration is denser than Ravel's, however, and that's what the 1957 engineering can't do justice to. Compare this recording with Leif Ove Andsnes's recording with Pappano, and you'll appreciate the orchestral work appropriately -- and Andsnes's pianism is spectacular too, very much in the Michelangeli class, with a sweetness that doesn't diminish the sense of energy. It's good to have both, but it's the Ravel that makes this disc really special.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2013
One of the greatest pieces written and recorded by the consummate master. The Ravel piece is good as well, but the Rachmaninov...if you don't have this, get it. It is essential.
on September 27, 2014
It's not like I needed another recording of the Rachmaninov - and I also have one or two very good recordings of the Ravel. However, I bought this recording primarily to hear Michelangeli's playing after a friend recommended it. Stated simply, he's phenomenal, and I can't believe I never heard his playing before. The recording and everything about it is brilliant, including the sound - no mean feat given its age.
A must-have for anyone interested in this art form, or even just music in general.
Sorry, I've got to go get some more of his recordings....
on July 10, 2015
Great version of thesae works
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2014
This is an awkward and unusual work. There is no better recording of the Rachmaninoff. Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli's finest performance ever.