Michael Whincop | GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY, QLD AUSTRALIA | 12/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have always enjoyed the Grieg concerto, but found it a little lightweight -- the sort of work that made a good coupling with the Schumann, but not quite in its league. This recording has destroyed that prejudice forever. The Grieg was one of the small number of works that Michelangeli played throughout his performing career, and one of his first recordings was made with Galliera in Milan in 1942. The recording in this album is from a live performance with the New Philharmonia in 1965 with Fruhbeck de Burgos. It is without a date the most electrifying, galvanic performance of the Grieg imaginable. There are times when Michelangeli could be a cold pianist -- never boring -- but always patrician in his technical and tonal immaculacy. This performance demonstrates every facet of that monumental technique -- the cadenzas are terrifying -- without compromising his eerie perfection -- witness his entry in the slow movement and the purity of the trills. It puts his famous Milan recording with Galliera totally in the shade. Even with the comparison of his Rachmaninov IV and Ravel concerti, this is surely the most treasurable of Michelangeli's recordings, and no other pianist I have heard in the Grieg even comes close to matching him.The Debussy is encumbered by a very onerous comparison -- Michelangeli himself. His famous DG recording is the benchmark in these works. These performances from 1982 nonetheless make an interesting comparison, although the basic lines are very similar. They are undeniably fascinating, and are ever so slightly more personal than his chiseled perfection in the studio. Michelangeli's Debussy was wholly unique, and these performances show why."
Richard Steiger | Murray, KY USA | 01/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although the Debuusy Preludes are excellently played and well-recorded, the main appeal of this issue is Michelangeli's stunning live performace of the Grieg piano concerto. Listening to this performance is like hearing the work for the first time. He's certainly the only pianist I've ever heard who actually makes the Grieg concerto sound dangerous. The concerto usually makes pleasant rather than exciting listening, but Michelangeli changes all that, charging through this work with unbridled energy and stunning virtuosity. Just listen to him explode into the last movement. Its opening theme sounds more like Bartok than Grieg and its whirlwind final pages remind me of the dizzy waltz that ends the Prokofief Third. For once the concerto's lyrical passages sound passionate rather than placid. In every way this is the most gripping performance of the work I've ever heard. The recorded sound is mediocre. but perfectly listenable. In sum, don't miss this performance!"
wah_lau_eh | Lawrence, KS United States | 01/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This performance of the Grieg concerto is, IMHO, one of the VERY FINEST the world has EVER heard. Of course, we have heard many great masters tackle this piece, from the early Solomon and Moiseiwitsch to the pianists of our age, especially Murray Perahia. However, Michelangeli is in a class of his own. his playing is an incredible mix of immaculate precision and demonic virtuosity, of heartfelt sensitivity and extroverted flair. Some of my friends feel it's too aggresive for their taste, but i disagree. it's this kind of almost lisztian virtuosity that really ignites this piece. also, check out his very special way of phrasing the music, it has almost become his signature. do yourself a favor and get this CD. you'll be glad you did."
Richard Steiger | 05/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have recordings (Michelangeli performing Grieg Concerto, op 15) from Geneva 7 June 1941, Milan 9 February 1942, Rome 27 June 1963 - and this recording (London 17 June 1965) is the finest. "Geneva" survives only in fragment (Italian imports; complete assessment of the work not possible); "Milan", the sound quality of the Teldec CD (Teldec release; the same recording can be found in Italian Imports too in which the sound quality differs one CD from another depending on a varing transfer process employed in CD transfer; as far as the transfer go, Teldec exceeds in dynamic range and tonal retrieval of the piano tone - some Italian Imports do offer a clear view of the instrument at the expense of obvious tonal thinning). "Rome" can be found in Italian imports; sound quality and performance are both fine considering the source tape (though it is exceedingly good recording by standard it falls short of the BBC's finest transfer in "London".)On performance side, "London" simply has everything: 'teeth' (some would prefer 'temperament', 'substance'), concentration ('perfection' - usually refers to designate not only the generic notion 'overall perfection' but 'perfection here on this very occasion'), and a huge satisfaction (I need not know whose that is - since I hear one audience member's frenetic assent, shouting the supreme approval at his own expense [he's rather funny!]) I really was surprised by this BBC release, out of nowhere bringing out the best of Michelangeli and his Grieg interpretation with the fine quality recording only to be totally eclipsed by Michelangeli at his best, musically or otherwise, truly a glorious performance even for the seasoned collectors and Michelangeli fans. The CD also contains Debussy Preludes Book I, recorded live in London, 13 April 1982. You might want to compare this performance with Deutsche Gramophon release (studio recording; Hamburg 1978 - Deutsche Grammophon 413 450-2) or Memoria label (Hamburg 7 May 1993 - Memoria 999-101). For me, "Hamburg 1993" would serve best, not that both DG and BBC version is less than, in my mind, what they are."