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Rubinstein Collection Vol 56 - Beethoven: Piano Sonatas

Release Date: 10/10/2000 
Label:  Rca Victor Red Seal Catalog #: 63056   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

When he made these recordings in 1962–63, Artur Rubinstein was, in general, a more laid-back and more technically secure pianist than in his youth. This was all to the good in Chopin, but not an entirely welcome development in some quarters, when the subject was Beethoven. Even here, Rubinstein’s technique was not always pristine, and some naysayers supposed that was the reason for his rather slow and steady approach here to Beethoven’s famous “name” sonatas. Perhaps there’s some truth to that, but don’t forget that Rubinstein was by nature—especially at this point in his career—a pianist inclined to poetry. If you can tolerate Beethoven that is more poetic than impetuous, this reissue holds much appeal.

Aside from Read more the “Pathétique,” whose outer movements are deliberate almost but not quite to the point of being prosaic, these readings are full of carefully measured-out detail, very subtle rubato, and clear delineation of inner voices. The finale of “Les adieux” has all the drive one could wish, at least in the context of Rubinstein’s overall conception, and his “Moonlight” and “Appassionata,” despite a few little slips in the former, are models of how to balance control with expression... If you have room in your collection for a Beethoven-player who is less interested in rattling the rafters than in arranging the décor exquisitely, Rubinstein’s your man.

FANFARE: James Reel
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Works on This Recording

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 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 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. 
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. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Rubinstein's straightforward Beethoven December 16, 2011 By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews "Rubinstein knew all 32 of Beethoven's Sonatas by heart, but in public and on record, limited himself to the most popular half dozen or so. The four Sonatas on this CD -- originally recorded at RCA Italiana Studios in the early 1960s -- were, with the five Concertos, the core of the pianist's Beethoven repertoire.

Rubinstein's approach to the Pathetique is characteristic of his Beethoven playing: Tempos are sensible, avoiding extremes of speed or slowness; phrasing is devoid of artifice; pedalling is sparser than Beethoven's written indications (but many of Beethoven's contemoparies claim Beethoven over-pedalled); repeats are generally taken. Some purists will object how Rubinstein plays the first movement ornaments in the "Italian" rather than the "German" manner, but there has been no conclusive evidence either way on the "correct" manner to handle them (Beethoven probably didn't care anyway).

This CD contains Rubinstein's only recording of the inescapable Moonlight Sonata. He performed it in public several times during the 1962-1963 season, and then dropped it from his repertoire. The first movement is played simply, even a little dryly, as is the second movement. But Rubinstein lets loose in the Finale, with a breakneck tempo and stark dynamic contrasts, bringing the work to a rousing close. Nobody else could hit a piano that hard and still create such a beautiful sound.

The Appassionata was a favorite of Rubinstein's. He featured it in his earliest concert performances, played it almost to the end of his career, and recorded it three times. This recording is more successful than the previous two (the first was almost comically slapdash). Max Wilcox, the producer of the original recording, has noted that this was one of the few times Rubinstein became hampered in the recording studio, and many takes were required before Rubinstein was satisfied. But one could never guess that from listening to the resulting performance, it is totally organic and betrays no hint of being spliced together.

The performance of the Les Adieux Sonata is more reflective, mellow than Rubinstein's early mono version. The first movement is more a coherent statement of the work's structure than a portrait of a friend's Farewell. The Absence movement is not as colorful as, say, Kempff's; nor is the Return as joyous as Rudolf Serkin's version (but at least Rubinstein doesn't stamp the pedal).

Of course, there are many recordings of the more popular Sonatas one would want for one's collection, including Serkin's, Kempff's, and even Horowitz's - not to mention those by more contemporary pianists which I personally do not find interesting. And there are a number of fine complete sets available. But for a straight, uncluttered approach to the music, Rubinstein can be heartily recommended.

RCA's remastering has a bit more dynamic range and impact than the original LP. "
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