Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Brahms Variations and the Bach/Busoni were recorded in London on October 26th and 27th, 1948 respectively. Michelangeli was still only 28. The accompanying booklet reminds us that the Variations originally bore the title Studien, and certainly in the young pianist's performance one gets the impression that the composer is putting the instrument through its paces. The reading starts off in an almost angry mood and there is little in the way of expressive warmth throughout. Variation 12 of Book 1, however, features playing of such ravishing aural beauty that I would be hard pressed to name another recording that could be compared with it, excepting the Mompou mentioned below. Sadly, though, neither the Brahms nor the Bach/Busoni are at
all well recorded: aside from some distortion in pitch, the instrument has little presence or sonority.
The Chaconne is a forbidding, massive version, with colouristic possibilities and virtuosity exploited to the full. From a purely musical standpoint the Beethoven emerges as by far and away the more convincing interpretation and, incidentally, it is excellently recorded. There is real temperament here, and this is kept in order by an unshakable poise which ensures that the structure is not allowed to disintegrate. What wonderful directness and simplicity of phrasing in the adagio slow movement!
The shorter pieces, it has to be said, are not all of equal quality. Michelangeli's Scarlatti lacks Horowitz's magic, and in the Grieg Lyric Pieces, recorded when he was only 19, one already notices a tendency to use the music primarily as a study in tone production. The Albeniz and Granados favourites (from Recuerdos viaje and the Danzas espanolas respectively) are both wilful in the extreme, however mysterious their effect. The Cancion y danza No. 1 of Mompou is quite definitely the pearl. A stupendous use of tone-colour sets the playing apart from that of the mere mortals one usually hears doing their best at the piano.'
James Methuen-Campbell, Gramophone 8/1993
Works on This Recording
Sonata for Piano no 3 in C major, Op. 2 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (Piano)
Written: 1794-1795; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 1941
Length: 22 Minutes 46 Secs.
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