I heard and saw this performance on TV, the third of a series consisting of concertos 1, 3 & 5. I was not much impressed with 1 or 3 - the playing is perfect beyond perfection, but I didn't feel Michelangeli had much to say about them.
This is different! More than any classic I can think of, the Emperor concerto plays itself. Bring to it the necessary technique, musicianship and enthusiasm, and that knockout inspiration will do the rest.What it needs is the right kind of play-through, and here we have it supplied by Michelangeli.
Just bask in it! Those mighty hands, that glorious tone, that rock-steady rhythm - they are all here, beautifully backed by Giulini and beautifully recorded. Even here there are some unique touches. If you want to know the exact value, correct to 7 decimal places, of triplet semiquavers in the right hand against triplet quavers in the left, you can hear it at two points in the first movement. The first time you hear the long trill near the end of the finale you will notice minute accents on the strong beats: the second time you hear it you will notice that the accents differentiate between the first and fourth beats. What you will not know from sound alone is how M. played the first bass note in the rondo theme - a casual, haughty swipe with the side of his hand.
Given the nature of the piece and the standard of today's piano playing, the competition is particularly strong. Even so this is an Emperor among Emperors.