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Mozart: Piano Concerto K 466; Beethoven / Michelangeli

Release Date: 09/28/2004 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 1147   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartLudwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
Conductor:  Karl Münchinger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Behind Michelangeli’s legendary keyboard mastery—the precision of his articulation, the perfection of his vertical balances, the glory of his tone, the evenness of his trills and his passagework—lay a perversely moody interpretive persona. On his Jekyll days, he was a hypnotic performer who could coax an audience into transcending time and place; as Hyde, he could bludgeon the music in a way that left you with little but a sense of the pianist’s distance from traditional communicative values. It wasn’t a matter of repertoire: he played few pieces in public, and any one of them could draw out either response. No, his approach seemed determined more by his frame of mind at the moment he sat down to play.

In any case, this
Read more disc—which offers two performances advertised as first releases—shows both sides of his character. The Mozart gets a magnificent reading, much in the dramatic spirit of Don Giovanni—taut, dark, powerful. There’s a fair amount of rubato (especially in the first movement cadenza), and the phrasing has a resilience that marks the pianist’s playing only on his good days. More important, for all the weight of the interpretation (more Beethovenian than Mozartian), the performance maintains a constant forward pressure. The sound is good, and Münchinger has a strong sense of adventure, too. This is by far the best Michelangeli recording of this score in my collection—and if you don’t mind your Mozart tipping over into romantic overdrive, it holds up well against anything in the catalog.

The Beethoven, in contrast, shows flashes of the pianist at his worst: dour, self-absorbed, willfully uncomprehending. Yes, there are a few near-smiles in the finale—but the third movement is over-driven, and the unfeeling account of the Adagio shows no appreciation of the rhetorical potential of the music’s gestures. As for the first movement—unless you’re eager to hear one of those rare moments where Michelangeli’s fingers slip (the beginning of the development), there’s little of interest as he slogs, heavy-handed and humorless, through the music, crushing its moments of wit. In sum, half a loaf. But with Michelangeli, half a loaf is enough to warrant a recommendation.

Peter J. Rabinowitz, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 20 in D minor, K 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (Piano)
Conductor:  Karl Münchinger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/22/1967 
Venue:  Liederhalle, Stuttgart, Germany 
Length: 32 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Sonata for Piano no 3 in C major, Op. 2 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1794-1795; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/11/1975 
Venue:  Live  Salle Pleyel, Paris, France 
Length: 26 Minutes 2 Secs. 

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