This splendid CD reissue enshrines two very fine readings of these evergreen concertos which remain amongst the favourites of the repertoire. Artur Rubinstein surely had these works in his blood and throughout, his readings can be described as impeccable technical and with a splendid amount of panache and vigour.
The recordings which date from the mid 1960's are obviously rather restricted technically but the interplay between orchestra and soloist is exemplary with Cluytens bringing particular reverence to the Brahms work. ARTS already have an excellent version of the Brahms on their Archives series with Alexis Weissenberg playing and accompanied by the hugely underrated Peter Maag which compares well to this new one although I would eventually plumb for Rubinstein especially in the mercurial Finale.
The Schumann recording is something of a curiosity featuring a conductor who was almost unknown to me before this disc arrived for review and that is Franco Caracciolo. There is practically nothing about him in the booklet notes but I enjoyed his careful phrasing and delicate nuances, essential items in this most mercurial of concertos.
Recordings are a bit on the hissy side but apart from that the performances have come up trumps with Rubinstein playing like the devil possessed. At this price, a hearty recommendation is certainly in order here and one hopes for further excellent issues from the rich stable of Italian archives, something which ARTS have tapped into much to their credit.
Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech