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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas No 8, 14, 23, 26 / Rubinstein

Release Date: 02/07/2006 
Label:  Rca Victor Living Stereo Catalog #: 71619   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.


BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas: No. 8, “Pathétique”; No. 14 , “Moonlight”; No. 23, “Appassionata”; No. 26, “Les Adieux” Arthur Rubinstein (pn) Read more class="BULLET12b">• RCA 71619 (Hybrid multichannel: SACD 75:42)

When I was young, there were three pianists whom I always hoped to be able to hear in person, Rudolf Serkin, Vladimir Horowitz, and Arthur Rubenstein. I finally heard all three, Horowitz only once. These were, of course, the most high-profile pianists living in the United States in the post-WW II years, and all three had prominent recording contracts to keep their names available.

I don’t suppose I have heard these (1962–63) recordings for 30 or more years, and revisiting old pleasures can be a disappointing experience. My youthful enthusiasm anointed Serkin as the ultimate keeper of Beethoven’s flame and relegated Rubinstein to the category of a good show. Time and experience tempered these judgments, as they must, and hearing Rubinstein live several times certainly gave nuance to what a “good show” ought to be. I think what finally did it was letting myself hear Rubinstein’s astonishing sense of line and delicacy of touch, which drew rather than propelled us through even the well-known bars of the “Moonlight” Sonata. I have always admired the way his playing makes each note suggest there is an obvious following one that will appear in its due course. Above all, in his playing there is the sense of the sheer pleasure he takes in it. By this I do not mean he is self-indulgent or willful or careless. On the contrary. Though I recall him as a good showman and though there was the occasional fluff, I always had the sense that when he sat down at the piano, Beethoven came first.

The sonatas here are the “warhorses” of the repertoire, of course, and there is good reason for that: they are sturdy stuff. But how many actually play the triplets of the first movement of No. 14 “with a most delicate touch,” as Beethoven asks of the whole movement, and make them go somewhere? How many can ? Rubinstein does so and uses that to create an urgency only released by the arrival of the tune in m. 10, a melody, in turn, urged toward its resolution in m. 22. What sets Rubinstein apart for me is that he does this not by driving us through the music but by drawing us along with it: this is not Bach à la Beethoven. This is not to say that Rubinstein is all delicacy: subtlety need not be understated, nor passion overplayed. There is fire enough when called for, as in the last movement of the “Moonlight” Sonata, for example. In 29/6, James Reel called this playing “poetic,” and we have need of such poetry today.

FANFARE: Alan Swanson
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano no 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 no 2 "Moonlight" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/1962 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City 
Length: 15 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Sonata for Piano no 26 in E flat major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809-1810; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/1962 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City 
Length: 16 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Sonata for Piano no 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/1962 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City 
Length: 19 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Sonata for Piano no 23 in F minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804-1805; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/1963 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City 
Length: 23 Minutes 58 Secs. 

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