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CD Review

Artur Rubinstein Plays

Artur Rubinstein, piano
London Symphony Orchestra/John Barbirolli
* London Symphony Orchestra/Albert Coates
Academy Sound & Vision Sanctuary Living Era AJC8550 70m ADD Rec 1929/32
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Artur Rubinstein remains a legend among pianists and this coupling of two early recordings of famous concertos is an excellent way to start Sanctuary's new Living Era Classics series. Both the Tchaikovsky and the Brahms were important swathes of the pianist's repertoire and it is fascinating to hear the way they used to be played over 75 years ago.

This version of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto dates back to 1932 and has the young Sir John Barbirolli at the helm. The opening Allegro moderato is beautifully done with Rubinstein's entry carefully judged almost to perfection. The movement develops with a fine rapport between pianist and conductor although the sound is obviously limited. In the Allegro con fuoco, Barbirolli and Rubinstein really let their hair down and the result is wonderful music making.

The Brahms Second Piano Concerto is a tour de force of interplay between soloist and orchestra and this time we go back to 1929 with Albert Coates at the helm. This is another magnificent show of talent by the great Rubinstein who's playing sparkles with a miraculous fervour throughout. The opening Allegro non troppo is particularly memorable whilst the Andante has some moments of true poetic beauty.

These legendary EMI recordings were produced by the equally legendary Fred Gaisberg and they have some excellent sound for their time. If you don't already have these recordings in your collection then you would be advised to take them on in this new reincarnation.

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech