Artur Rubinstein had one of the longest (more than eight decades) performing careers of any performer, pianist or otherwise. Throughout his long lifetime, he was closely associated with many of the twentieth century's musical luminaries, from composers to conductors to other artists. Listeners are fortunate that in addition to Rubinstein's endless performing career, he distinguished himself yet again by becoming one of the most widely recorded artists of his day, beginning with his very early piano roll recordings, made well before more familiar recording mediums were available. As such, Rubinstein recorded much of the standard repertoire on more than one occasion, allowing listeners to observe the many changes that took place in his playing over the course of his lifetime. What is much more rare, however, are opportunities to actually see Rubinstein playing, which is why this Deutsche Grammophon DVD (one of two available on the label) is such an amazing opportunity. Recorded in 1973 when Rubinstein was at the seasoned age of 86, these recordings do not necessarily show Rubinstein at the height of his performance powers. The Chopin he recorded in the 1960s for RCA is much more technically refined and of superior musical cohesion, and his recording of the Brahms D minor Concerto with the Chicago Symphony and Fritz Reiner simply cannot be improved upon. But just seeing Rubinstein play here far outweighs any minor technical shortcomings. It's stunning to see how effortless every movement is for him at the piano, virtually exerting no effort but still producing a profound abundance of sound. Video editing is top-notch, with the sound perfectly lining up with what we see on the screen. The DVD also includes an invaluable and highly enjoyable interview with Rubinstein at the age of 90, after he had sadly retired from public performance primarily due to vision and hearing problems. A must-have item for almost any collection.
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