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on December 30, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this dvd. There's never a dull moment in Rubinstein's playing - especially of Chopin. This is my favorite Chopin "Heroic" Polonaise on video - In the last few bars, Rubinstein seems to nearly jump right off of the piano bench from the sheer excitement this piece generated while he played it. He was born to play (and own) this piece. I don't believe any pianist before him or after will be able to get to the heart of this piece the way Rubinstein did. The video has some grain, but to me that makes it have a "retro" feel. Sometimes, it's good to feel like one is going "back in time" to relive an unforgettable performance!
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on June 30, 2009
Rubinstein's prime years lasted, in my opinion, roughly from the the mid 1940s to the mid 1960s, so this concert falls near the end of that time. (Of course, even into the 1970s he remained formidable technically, and he never lost any of his natural charisma.)

The first piece on the program may be the most powerful performance of Chopin's F-sharp minor Polonaise on record. His octaves (which Rubinstein was not particularly known for) are clean and strong; his fingerwork (particularly the left hand runs) snaps like a cobra, never forcing him to 'stretch' the rhythm; and most importantly his natural yet steely rhythmic spine never wavers. The performance is absolutely compelling.

After that, the Impromptu evolves in the natural, easy, logically breathing way which only Rubinstein could evoke.

The Sonata, too, is absolutely compelling. No one attacks the 1st movement's coda the way he does. Some no dount dismiss his approach here as bombast, all temprament and no reason or control. I believe that criticism is ridiculous. He leads up to it logically and continues after it logically, directly into the scherzo movement, so that this coda becomes one of a series of climactic moments which are one thread tieing the piece together. Unfortunately, at the end of the exposition of the scherzo movement, he starts playing the recapitulation instead and ends up completely lost in a memory slip from which he must improvise his way to the begining of the trio. But then he cuts back to the chomatic double 4ths and tries it again, and forgets it even worse than the first time! This is a huge lapse, and I cannot say that it doesn't detract from the overall impact of the performance. For me, though, it does not ruin it. His Funeral March movement has all the rhetorical power and grand sweep of the Rubinstein manner, full of sentiment but without sentimentality, as he himself once wrote. And in the finale, the 77 year old man is a technical marvel, fingers as assured as Richter's, pedaling but never smudging, leading, logically as always, to the final shocking B-flat minor chord.

The second half begins with the Barcarolle, and I believe it stands with the F-sharp minor Polonaise as among the most powerful performances on record. The Rubinstein rhythmic spine is still there, though slightly more limpid, as the piece demands, and he stretches it beautifully in the coda to make the most of the harmonic disonances. His trills in double 3rds are as liquid silver, and the overall, natural breathing quality is always there.

The Nocturne and A minor waltz have exactly those same qualities. They are uncomplicated and beautifully played, without the least rhetorical mannerism.

The same goes for the three Etudes. Unfortunately, the last one, Op. 10 no. 4, is the only piece in the whole program in which we never see a shot of his hands. It is overpowering in its sheer masculine sweep and rhythmic drive.

As he begins with a Polonaise, so he ends with one: the famous A-flat. It is much as his other performances of it: big and noble. He does not strive for any subltlety here as he does elsewhere, and he does not need to.

The encores are fantastic as well. In particular the Chopin waltz, with the ascending right hand scales extended an extra octave (though kept strictly in time), is marvelous and fun.

Anyone who appreciates what Rubinstein had to offer as a musician and pianist will love this concert.
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on March 26, 2017
Rubinstein playing Chopin: the very best
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Enthusiast: Pianoon February 7, 2010
Whatever the limitations of the sound and video of this DVD it is an absolute pleasure to be able to watch and listen to Rubinstein play. His love of the music, his audience, and life are in full evidence. With many musicians you want to close your eyes and just listen because it is distracting to watch them. There is so much tension, anxiety, or artifice in their face or body motion that it becomes a distraction from listening to the music. Rubinstein clearly loves this music and is willing to make mistakes in the more difficult passages as long as the beauty, power, and line of the performance benefit. If you enjoyed this DVD, I can also recommend the two DVDs on DG. The BMG Chopin Box of 11 CDs is one of the greatest bargain buys to be had.
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on September 30, 2012
This incredible recital which took place in The Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory in 1962, has been digitally remastered for this DVD and although the picture is black and white, the sound is quite good evoking comparisons with RCA's "Living Stereo" series.Rubinsteins recordings usually took place in the studio, but if you believe aside from being a superb musician, that his playing is modest and conservative, guess again.

This live recital catches Rubinstein in a totally inspired mood, giving virtuoso performances that sound straight from the 19th cenury comparable to such greats as Josef Lhevinne, Josef Hofmann, Moritz Rosenthal, Leopold Godowsky,young Horowitz and Rachmaninoff. The Polonaise in F# minor is dazzling, but its the 2nd Piano Sonata where Rubinstein gives every note meaning combined with superb virtuosity that is always at the service of the composer, a case in point being the 2nd movement (Scherzo) where you can hear all the double thirds and octaves clearly and distinctly, at least equal to such greats as Horowitz, Argerich and Gilels.

These are risk taking performances much more free than the Rubinstein we know in the studio.The Chopin Etudes (4), Barcarolle, and Waltz in A minor show Rubinstein at the peak of his virtuoso and musical capabilities, and the Polonaise in A flat major "Heroic" will never be surpassed.The power, feeling, expression and complete identification with every note prove that Artur Rubinstein is a 19th century virtuoso at heart with every note of Chopin's music in his bones.A historic document and a desert island must have.
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on January 19, 2010
It was said the Rubinstein loved playing before a live audience and that he played his best in front of one. This performance clearly supports the proposition. The black and white video is not too good but the visual inadequacy is soon eclipsed by the pianistic brilliance. It was obvious that he was playing his heart out and relished the adoration of the audience. An absolutely magnificent performance. You'll never tire of watching it.
As I said, the video is only adequate but the sound is quite acceptable.
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on January 7, 2013
I have not actually watched this yet but i heard a CD of it from the library. (That CD was stolen and they stopped producing it so I can only hope this DVD captures the phenomenon of Rubinstein's performance of the Chopin Polonaise. When you listen you would swear he has to be an octopus to be able to play all those notes.) I love Rubinstein from listening to recordings of various concerti by Rachmaninov but this performance of Chopin is beyond belief. I can't wait to watch his hands.
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on November 1, 2009
Rubinstein's performance, of course, is 5+ stars! And, considering the state of recording and filming in Russia in 1964, this may also deserve 5 stars. However, just because it is not in color, and there is some "fuzziness" to the recording which may be distracting to some, I give it only 4 stars.

However, for the true Rubinstein fan, this is a fascinating performance, and this DVD should certainly be in his/her Rubinstein library
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on August 19, 2012
While the video and audio are not up to contemporary standards, who cares? A 77-year-old grand master of the piano and many composers' works celebrated his talent and theirs in his inimitable fashion. A million thanks to Ideale Audience International for the DVD!
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on September 24, 2016
He's the best
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