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Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor"; Piano Concerto No. 2
Ludwig van Beethoven, Daniel Barenboim, London Philharmonic Orchestra
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor"; Piano Concerto No. 2
Genre: Classical
 

      
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CD Reviews

Rubinstein's Late Beethoven
Hank Drake | Cleveland, OH United States | 06/22/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The "Late" here refers to Rubinstein, not Beethoven. The great pianist was nearly ninety when these concertos were recorded. When this cycle of Beethoven Concertos was originally released in 1976, the set was generally panned by critics. One factor may have been the sound on the original LPs: the piano was virtually in your lap, with the orchestra far in the background and very poorly mixed. The sound gave the impression of a bogged down "arthritic" performance. The audio has been greatly improved here. The balance is natural, the orchestral sonority is plush.

Rubinstein's performance here can best be described as "stately." He is certainly still capable of creating a fortissimo which rocks the piano on its wheels, but never makes a harsh sound. (There is a technical slip on Rubinstein's part during the last movement of the Second Concerto which should have been corrected.) Some purists may quibble with his use of rubato, pedal, and approach to ornamentation--but the performances are an autumnal joy from first note to last.

There are three complete cycles of Rubinstein in the Beethoven concertos. For those only able to aquire one, I would give top recommendation to the cycle with Leinsdorf, recorded in the mid-1960s. But these performances are worth a listen as well.

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