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Recital:Beethoven/Debussy/Ravel [Original recording remastered]

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Performer: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
  • Composer: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Ludwig van Beethoven, Maurice Ravel
  • Audio CD (1 April 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: BBC Legends
  • ASIN: B00005A8FG
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 251,409 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Beethoven - Piano Sonata No.12 in A flat, op.26
2. Beethoven - Piano Sonata No.4 in E flat, op.7
3. Debussy - Hommage Rameau (from "Images")
4. Ravel - Gaspard de la Nuit

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-blowing Playing 7 Feb 2011
Format:Audio CD
The main reason for buying this CD is the landmark recording of Gaspard that Michelangeli lay down in a 1959 BBC recital recording. Many artists can conceive of works in a penetrating fashion. But few can realize that conception with such adherence and control as Michelangeli. This is what leaves me entranced by his greatest recordings. The Gaspard presented here more than qualifies in that category. Of course, if you want raw virtuosity, you could do better with Argerich or Pogorelich. But the skill on offer here transcends all others in terms of true command of the keyboard and overall musicianship. The mono sound is fantastic, slightly richer than the deleted issuing of the recording on the Phillips Greatest Pianists of the 20th Century.
The other items, all taken from a 1982 Royal Festival Hall recital, as also a joy to listen to, though it would be understandable for you to disagree with Michelangeli's occasionally severe treatment. For me, he is simply revealing the work's true characters with enhanced clarity.
If you're a fan of early Michelangeli, you'd be advised to check out Testament's release of his trail-blazing 1957 Festival Hall recital (Michelangeli - London Recital, March 1957), including imperious accounts of Schumann's Carnaval and Faschingsschwank, a masterful Chopin 1st Ballade and some gorgeous Debussy.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning 'Gaspard' and more 17 Jan 2005
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This CD is taken from the vaults of BBC radio and is part of their 'BBC Legends' series. The performances here are mostly from a Royal Festival Hall recital in 1982, a recital in which Michelangeli was reportedly running a fever but refused to cancel; considering his reputation for canceling for all kinds of reasons, we should be glad he went ahead with this one because it is superb. Also included is a performance from 1959 of one of his specialties, Ravel's 'Gaspard de la nuit.'

That 'Gaspard' is one of the most astonishing performances I've ever heard. Michelangeli, who had a reputation for adding somewhat idiosyncratic accents and dynamics, plays this one absolutely straight and it is one for the ages. This is the same performance included in the Philips 'Great Pianists of the 20th Century' but a comparison shows that this BBC release is actually in somewhat better sound. Granted, it is from 1959, but the sound is really quite good and I don't think anyone will feel they've missed anything in the 45-year-old sonics. Just listen to how he brings out nuances in 'Ondine.' I heard things (a slight prefiguration of the tolling bell in 'Le gibet,' for instance) that I'd never heard before. 'Le gibet' is devastating in its desolation. 'Scarbo,' while not as fast as Argerich's celebrated recording, is cleaner than hers and this is, amazingly, a reportedly un-retouched LIVE performance. Pianists of all stripes can only gape in amazement at this man's technique. He not only plays extraordinarily cleanly (listen to the repeated notes in 'Scarbo') but the variety in his touch, even in this 1950s sound, is simply astounding. This performance is definitely one for every music-lover's collection.

In the 1982 recital there are two Beethoven sonatas--Michelangeli didn't play all that many Beethoven sonatas, but these two were specialties of his. There have been quibbles about his over-emphatic early Beethoven, but you won't hear that from me. His emotional approach, with emphasized sforzati and dynamic contrasts, strike me as equally valid to rather more lyrical approaches. The andante and variations first movement of the Op. 26 sonata is a good deal more dramatic than one generally hears it, and considering that this is the only Beethoven sonata without a sonata-allegro movement, this movement takes the place of one; Michelangeli's choice to play it dramatically helps make it the linchpin of the sonata. The slow movement, a funeral march, is wrenching in its intensity. (A brass band arrangement of this movement was played at Beethoven's funeral.) The Op. 7 sonata, usually played in a classical manner, is also quite intense and frankly I think it benefits from this approach. I will admit that I am smitten with Michelangeli's playing and willing to accept pretty much whatever he does. One reason, aside from his monumental technique, is that he is a thinking musician whose choices are not lightly taken. This is not to say that there aren't lyrical passages in this early sonata; the largo second movement has lyricism to spare, and Michelangeli's control of the slow harmonic motion of this movement is a lesson in concentration for other lesser pianists.

Michelangeli was a genius at the music of Debussy and we can be thankful that he extracted the 'Hommage à Rameau' from that composer's first book of 'Images' for this recital. This is not watery, feminine Debussy; it has spine and form that it often is deprived of by other pianists. It is magical.

I can recommend this disc with complete confidence.

TT=78'26"

Scott Morrison
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another jewel ! 26 April 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
If perfection exist Michelangeli owned it. It's true: Chopin, Debussy and Ravel are " his composers". This man was able to control all possible colours just skimming over the keyboards. His "Gaspard de la nuit" performance is astonishing!!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars *** 1/2 A great Gaspard yoked to eccentric Beethoven 10 Dec 2012
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Reading the Amazon reviewer's dismissal of this live recital from Royal Festival Hall in 1962, I immediately assumed that he was wrong - however, there are reasons to be cautious. The sound is a bit distant and rackety. The complaints about eccentric attacks in the Beethoven Sonata Op. 26 "Funeral March" shouldn't be taken lightly. The punched-out sforzandi in the first movement occur here and there as the variations unfold, becoming more intrusive in the funeral march. Similar fiddling with the balances in the Op. 7 sonata became annoying. I'm not sure that Michelangeli's legend can survive the oddities on display here. He wasn't drawn to Beethoven or widely admired in his music.

Of course there are compensations. the playing is never less than personal, with a one-of-a-kind stamp. The interpretation of the Rondo finale of Op. 7 is highly original; the slow movement is particularly engrossing, as Scott Morrison points out, despite some hard, abrupt attacks. Michelangeli's sophistication is everywhere in evidence, so you only need to ask yourself if sophistication is a help or hindrance in Beethoven. Balancing the pros and cons, I think that one listen is enough for me.

Michelangeli was too controversial in his patrician aloofness, frequent cancellations, and absolute refusal to pander to audiences to gather much consensus. The major exception was his mastery of Ravel and Debussy. but of debussy we get only one excerpt from the Images Bk. 1, Hommage a Rameua. Beautiful as it is, one can also find it elsewhere in the pianist's output. Which leaves Gaspard de la nuit, recorded in London in 1959. There are other sources for this performance, along with other Michelangeli versions included on programs that deliver more consistent pleasure. I'm taking away nothing from the present reading, which is i good, clear mono, but one should be aware that this isn't a unique performance. In all, I'd call this CD a must-buy only for true fans of Michelangeli.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Michaelangeli 18 Aug 2010
By rks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I don't think I have heard a recording of Michelanegli yet that I didn't appreciate. I may not have chosen his interpretation but I am deeply inspired by his interpretation.
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