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Works on This Recording
Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 16 by Edvard Grieg
Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1868/1907; Norway
Date of Recording: 1956
Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Date of Recording: 1963
Notes: Composition written: Russia (1874 - 1875).
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Dry Grieg and Relaxed Tchaikovsky December 16, 2011
By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews
"Rubinstein unashamedly loved the Grieg Concerto, dismissing many pianists' claims that it was "cheap stuff." When stereo recording became available, he was eager to record it with Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony. However, a fallout with the irascible conductor put a stop to those plans. In February of 1956, Rubinstein set up shop with Alfred Wallenstein and the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra--a pick-up group used for recordings. There are several problems with this recording which prevent it from being of the first-rank. Rubinstein seems rushed here. His phrasing seems clipped, without the relaxed, natural sounding quality we usually associate with this pianist. The orchestral accompaniment leaves much to be desired also. Although they play reasonably together and in-tune, there are numerous balance and intonation problems. The sound, like many of RCA's early Living Stereo recordings, is extremely dry, even with remastering. On the whole, this is not a memorable performance, and Rubinstein's 1961 remake (Volume 60) is a vast improvement. This was the last of Rubinstein's three recordings of Tchaikovsky's warhorse, and is the product of fifty years of experience playing and thinking about the piece. This performance is the antithesis of his first recording with Barbirolli (Volume 1 of the Rubinstein Collection). The earlier version, though undeniably exciting, was played rather sloppily and suffered from poor sound. These problems were a factor in RCA's decision to supersede the Rubinstein/Barbirolli version with the Horowitz/Toscanini recording made in 1941. Rubinstein was furious at RCA's move, and roundly criticized the latter performance as being artistically deficient and technically defective. (He was right on the second count: Side 6 of the 8 sided 78-RPM set was markedly off pitch with the rest of the concerto.) For the liner notes of this recording of the Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein remarked about his change in approach, claiming that he wanted to "reestablish what a beautiful, beautiful piece it is." He also criticized the way certain pianists performed the piece as a virtuoso warhorse, and those who knew Rubinstein's history with his rival knew that his verbal barbs were aimed squarely at Horowitz. Rubinstein's 1963 performance is one of the more lyrical interpretations of Tchaikovsky's well-worn warhorse. The pianist certainly lets virtuoso fireworks burst from the keyboard when the music calls for it. But, phrasing, tempo, and dynamics bespeak of a kinder, gentler Tchaikovsky First. Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony Orchestra do a fine job of accompaniment. RCA's remastered sound is well balanced and smooth."