Radu Lupu is indisputably one of the foremost pianists performing before the public today. Although his repertory is confined mainly to the classical school (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and especially Schubert) with certain longer or shorter forays into other realms (Schumann, Brahms, Grieg or even Bartok, Janacek and Debussy), his live renditions as well as his recordings are greatly admired by worldwide audiences and praised by professional critics in flattering accolades. In a way, I dare say he remained - since Alfred Brendel's retirement - the most authoritative figure among living pianists with regard to Golden Triad "Mozart- Beethoven-Schubert".
Released by DECCA as a celebratory bow for the 60th anniversary of Lupu, this Beethoven CD box set comprises recordings made for this label by the great Romanian pianist over more than twenty years, since his emerging on international concert platform in early 1970s. Coming with a hat-trick of first prizes (won in prestigious international piano competitions: Van Cliburn - 1966, Enescu - 1967, Leeds - 1969) Radu Lupu rapidly established himself as one of the most important artists of his generation. An artist who has something profound, deeply thought and felt, to convey through the music he performs!
Actually it is very difficult to speak about Lupu's manner to play as long as its owner himself is not confident with words and barely gives an interview in decades! It is quite impossible to put it in a definition, just listen to that marvellous imperial pronouncement which is in his hands the E flat major Concerto. His serene, airy touch in the second movement is simply hair-rising. His unassuming virtuosity - bordering on a strange, austere noblesse - is so simple and natural displayed in the demanding outer parts of the concerto. It reminds me one critic said once that with Lupu "music is not made, just happens". Then adhere to his joy - and its three distinct facets - in the lively parts of the First Piano Concerto in C major. How sober and restrained approaches he that lament which is the central Andante con motto in the Concerto No.4 in G major or the bold textures of the Concerto No.3 in C minor, first to announce a new, grand-scale vision in Beethoven outcome. The three piano sonatas (with famous nicknames: "Pathetique", "Waldstein", "Moonlight") are three "moments of grace", making us regret that Lupu didn't record any other Beethoven's sonata. In consolation we enjoy the 32 Variations in C minor and two Rondos op.51 and - most of all - a superb account of a chamber gem, the Quintet in E flat major.
Being awarded with prestigious prizes (such as: Edison Award, Grammy Award, "Abbiati" Prize, "Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli" Prize), recognized as a living legend, eagerly sought-after, apparently distant and elusive but in fact taming incandescent inner worlds, Radu Lupu continues to seduce his audiences. For the moment, his art reveals itself only in live appearances. Until he will decide to return to recording studios don't hesitate to acquire this Beethoven box set (along with the two companion volumes in the anniversary edition, devoted to Schubert and Brahms respectively). They are essential mementos of the magisterial art of Radu Lupu!