33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of the Greatest Piano Records of all time, 2 Oct 2003
P>I bought this recording when it came out it on LP in the late 50s. I found it amazing at the time (I was then a 13 year old piano fanatic) and over forty years later I still think it one of the greatest examples of piano playing and music making of all time.
The Ravel is hors de concours. Marguerite Long with Ravel conducting sounds like a sewing machine (We know Ravel was not happy with her interpretation). Other pianists pull it around as if it were Jazz (e.g. Bernstein) or badly played Chopin. No one before or since has managed to get the Ravel sound: the balance between the Ravel classical metronome and the Ravel wild devil, between the singing piano and the brittle piano, between Couperin and Jazz, between what Perlemuter described as "the two pianos of Ravel". Listen to Michelangeli's performance of Gaspard, has anyone ever got it better?
I attended Vlado Perlemuter's master classes in the sixties (Vlado studied all Ravel's piano works with the composer) and I myself played the G major concerto when I was in my twenties so I know how "the tricks" are done; but when Michelangeli does them, I am lost in the excitement and the magic of the music.
Listen to the cadenza of the first movement: the theme first in the left hand then picked out in right-hand trills (in imitation of a a flexatone). That is extraordinary music making riding on top of transcendental piano playing - it is as awesome now as it was forty years ago and as it will be in fifty years time.
As for the Rachmaninov: Interestingly, some ten years ago, the BBC radio programme "Interpretations on Record" judged Michelangeli's performance "better in many respects" than S. Rachmaninov's. I couldn't agree more! I love/revere/worship Rachmaninov's own performances of his concertos, his rubato and phrasing are distinctive and inimitable with not a jot of vulgarity or playing to the gallery.
While Michelangeli never tries to mimic Rachmaninov's playing, he does manage to capture Rachmaninov's ability to present passion under control albeit on the point of exploding. Michelangeli has drive, lyricism and perfect balance between emotion and form. He has Horowitz' virtuosity without the flashing neon signs, he has Rachmaninov's control without the sometimes self-conscious self-restraint. This is some of the greatest piano playing you will ever hear. If you don't own these performances, go out and buy them at once and cherish them.