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Works on This Recording
Concerto for Piano no 2 in F minor, B 43/Op. 21 by Frédéric Chopin
Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Written: 1829-1830; Poland
Date of Recording: 1968
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Rubinstein's Late Chopin December 16, 2011
By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews
"Volume 69 of RCA's mammoth Rubinstein Collection contains some of Rubinstein's last authorized recordings of the music of his compatriot Chopin.
Rubinstein made no fewer than four recordings of Chopin's popular Second Concerto (there is an additional, filmed, performance from 1975). The pianist's conception of the concerto changed over the course of his career, from the brilliant, scintillating, and somewhat sectionalized playing of his early years, to the more mellow, mature, and structurally minded performance heard here. Rubinstein, 81 at the time of this recording, is occasionally cautious during the concerto's more demanding passages, uses less rubato, and less pedal than in his earlier recordings. Eugene Ormandy proves a most sympathetic accompanist here, even accommodating Rubinstein's rather questionable changes to Chopin's text: Rubinstein ordered a cut at the end of the first movement, and the violins in the mazurka episode of the finale play the passages with their bows, rather than sul ponticello (with the wood) as Chopin indicated.
The Fantasia on Polish Airs is one of the few works by Chopin that has never made it into the standard repertoire. Rubinstein rarely played the piece, and this is his only recording of it. His straighforward performance, along with Ormandy's accompaniment, fit the music like a glove.
Chopin's Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise is better known as a solo piece than in the version with orchestra heard here. Indeed, Rubinstein made three versions of the solo version. Truth be told, the orchestration is rather scanty, and best dispensed with altogether. Rubinstein plays the piece with his usual brilliance, and the pick-up orchestra under Alfred Wallenstein tries to stay out of the pianist's way.
The recordings with Ormandy were made in 1968, and sound lush and full. The Wallenstein recording comes from ten years earlier, and despite remastering remains rather dry and compressed. "