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Works on This Recording
Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 83 by Johannes Brahms
Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Written: 1878-1881; Austria
Date of Recording: 1975
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Rubinstein Falls Short December 22, 2011
By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews
"Volume 71 of RCA's complete Rubinstein Collection features the pianist's final recorded versions of two of his favorite works.
Rubinstein first recorded the Brahms Second Piano Concerto in 1929--a recording which remains one of the most exciting, if unpolished, versions on record. In 1971, Rubinstein returned to the studios and made this, his fourth, official recording of the work--this time with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. His conception of the piece had changed dramatically in the intervening years, and he seems to have traded one extreme for the other. Tempos are slow here, phrasing is flabby, and rubato emphasized at the expense of structure. Ormandy follows Rubinstein every step of the way, and the orchestra's playing is very distinguished. While this performance has a certain autumnal beauty, this is far from a first choice among Brahms Seconds. Better versions exist from Horowitz/Toscanini (Music & Arts, 1948), Szell/Fleischer (Sony, 1962), and Rubinstein himself, (with Krips, recorded in 1958 and included in Volume 38 of this collection).
Rubinstein is also competing with his younger self in the Schumann Fantasiestucke, Op. 12. The sessions from which this recording were taken were for his last LP in 1976. Tempos are only slightly slower here than in his earlier (1949 & 1962) versions of the work. The main problems here are dynamics and phrasing: due to his failing hearing, Rubinstein had an increasing tendency in his final years to play quiet passages too loudly; and the phrasing in this performance has a tentative, uncertain quality, distracting the listener from the music.
The sound has been more than adequately remastered, but due to the problems with the performances, this CD will be of interest mainly to Rubinstein completists. "