Artur Rubinstein

Rubinstein plays Beethoven, Saint-Saëns, Villa-Lobos & Chopin

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Few could accuse pianist Arthur Rubinstein of being overly technical in his performance. While it is true that the long-lived artist, whose career spanned some eight decades, was often guilty of blurring a few fast passages with an overzealous use of the pedal or missing a few notes altogether now and again, it's also true that few artists before or since have possessed the deep, perpetual musical insights that Rubinstein did, or his astounding ability to draw sound from his instrument. Arguably, the zenith of these abilities occurred from the mid-'50s through the late '60s, precisely the time period when these live recordings with the BBC were made. This album shows two distinct sides of Rubinstein. In his performance of Beethoven's Fourth and Saint-Saëns' Second piano concertos, Rubinstein demonstrates his penetrating understanding of standard repertoire concertos, his seamless communication with the orchestra, and his suave, captivating execution. The program continues with Rubinstein's predilection for music of Latin America with three very short movements from Villa-Lobos' Prole do bebê. Here, Rubinstein grips his listeners with his highly stylized, idiomatic approach. Although the sound quality of this particular recording does not capture with complete accuracy the power of Rubinstein's sound (RCA's re-release of his studio recordings have far superior sound), this album does give listeners a rare opportunity to witness Rubinstein's panache and spontaneity in live performance.

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