Excellent Middle Period Rubinstein December 22, 2011By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH)See All My Reviews"All of the mono recordings on this CD were made in 1950-1952. In Franck's Prelude, Chorale & Fugue, which is poised between Classicism and Romanticism, Rubinstein's naturalistic, unfussy approach suits the music ideally. Rubinstein made three recordings of this work: on 78-RPM discs in 1945, a remake for LP made in 1952, and his final stereo version made in 1970. The version here (1952) is, like many of the works Rubinstein made multiple recordings of, testament to the change of his musical outlook during his long career: from the flashy, occasionally episodic performances of the 1930s, to the more sober, structurally cohesive performances of the 1970s. This version of the Franck has all the brilliance of the earliest recording, with much of the architectural underpinning of the last version.
Rubinstein never cared for the "piano without hammers" approach of such Debussy specialists as Gieseking - he wanted more "meat" in his Debussy. However, he doesn't treat the French composer as some sort of 20th Century Chopin. Rubinstein generally uses softer "sound colors" here than he does in Chopin's work. His approach here is analagous to that of a painter substituting watercolors for oil paint.
The Schubert Impromptus are disappointing here. Rubinstein plays Op. 90, No. 3 from a corrupt version edited by Hans von Bulow which, among other things, changes Schubert's G-flat into G-natural! In both of the Impromptus, Rubinstein seems to be rushing to finish the piece before the record side runs out (these were originally recorded on 7" 45-RPM records). Better versions of these pieces are in Volume 54 of the Rubinstein Collection.
The Granados, Liszt, and Mendelssohn works were long favorite encores of Rubinstein's and they are played with characteristic directness and charisma.
Strongly recommended, except for the Schubert. The mono sound is fine."Report Abuse