Rudolf Serkin

Rudolf Serkin plays Beethoven

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AllMusic Review by

Rudolf Serkin's intellectually probing, penetrating, virtuosic, and occasionally amusing 1957 recording of the Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, made at the 1957 Marlboro Festival and issued by Columbia, ranks among the best available recordings of the work. This 1954 recording of the Variations, however, puts up a good fight to join that rank. It comes from the Prades Festival -- Pablo Casals' annual concert series in his adopted town in France. Serkin's technique, never entirely impeccable, is fiery here, burning through the fast variations at a white heat. His tone is astoundingly varied here, brightly shining in the contrapuntal variations and clearly glowing in the lyrical variations. But, most importantly, the interpretation is astonishingly individualistic. The comedy, tragedy, melancholy, and depth of humanity are characteristically Serkin's. Coupled with a magisterial and magical Opus 109 Sonata recorded two days after the variations, this Diabelli should be heard by anyone who loves late Beethoven in general and these works in particular.

Maggi Payne's 2006 restoration of the Opus 109 Sonata is a bit warmer and a tad less edgy than Kit Higginson's 2007 restoration of the Diabelli Variations, but both do a wonderful job of making the performances sound vivid and real -- albeit far, far away.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109
1 04:13 Amazon
2 02:15 Amazon
3 15:24 Amazon
Variations (33) on a waltz by Diabelli, for piano in C major ("Diabelli Variations"), Op. 120
4 00:55 Amazon
5 01:54 Amazon
6 01:01 Amazon
7 01:28 Amazon
8 00:57 Amazon
9 00:51 Amazon
10 02:05 Amazon
11 01:12 Amazon
12 01:46 Amazon
13 02:08 Amazon
14 00:35 Amazon
15 01:13 Amazon
16 00:48 Amazon
17 01:00 Amazon
18 02:57 Amazon
19 00:30 Amazon
20 01:01 Amazon
21 01:10 Amazon
22 01:38 Amazon
23 00:47 Amazon
24 02:34 Amazon
25 01:07 Amazon
26 00:50 Amazon
27 00:46 Amazon
28 03:23 Amazon
29 00:47 Amazon
30 00:59 Amazon
31 00:49 Amazon
32 01:04 Amazon
33 01:30 Amazon
34 02:00 Amazon
35 04:59 Amazon
36 03:07 Amazon
37 04:23 Amazon
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