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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Piano Records of all time
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...
Published on 2 Oct 2003 by Niels Einstein

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Rachmaninov; Funereal Ravel
I'm a great fan of Michelangeli and some of his recordings of French piano music are absolute classics. Sadly not this time: the first movement of the Ravel, which should be brash, jazzy and vibrant is taken at such a pedestrian, metronomic pace that it has all the life sucked out of it. And even though the beautiful second movement is well judged, I think the approach...
Published 12 months ago by GNH


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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Piano Records of all time, 2 Oct 2003
By 
Niels Einstein (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ravel & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
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.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never surpassed, 6 Jan 2010
By 
Scriabinmahler (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ravel & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
I'm not a great fan of Michelangeli (I often find his style of pianism too cold and clinical particularly in solo piano repertoire), but I must admit, this EMI stereo recording of Ravel's G major Concerto is truly in the class of its own and has never been surpassed yet as far as I've known.

In the outer movements, the pianist pushes the technical boundary to the limit and the dazzling tone he produces penetrates even the thickest of orchestral texture. It is astounding, he manages to articulate every note on the score even in the boldest sweep of the most difficult passages. In comparison, the modern performances by Zimerman, Yundi Li, Thibaudet, Roge, Lortie and etc sound too tame and spineless. And the uncompromising tonal refinement and the noble beauty, in the slow movement, transcend all the existing recorded performances. Time seems to stand still in the sheer sublimity of his playing.

The performance of Rachmaninov's 4th concerto is no less impressive. Again the outer movements are played with amazing clarity and totally gripping. In the slow movement, he captures the full-blooded Romanticism and poetry of the music like no other pianists. I've come to love this concerto as much as 2nd and 3rd, thanks to this revelatory account by Michelangeli.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncredible Playing, 19 Aug 2009
This review is from: Ravel & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
Michelangeli's coupling of these two concertos has long been reckoned to be one of the greatest - if not the greatest - concerto recording of all time. It's not just that his pianism is perfect - it's that it generates a life and electricity of its own that carries all before it. The Ravel is scintillating - just listen to the finale taken at break-neck pace yet phrased so delicately. And the playing in the Rach 4 makes you wonder just why this concerto is neglected. it emerges here as a masterpiece in its own right, different from its famous predecessors, but a new dimension in what the composer had to say. Fabulous! But now and enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable disc and justly famous as a reference since 1957, 5 Mar 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ravel & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
This disc, recorded in 1957, has withstood the ravages of time as a recording and surpassed most, if not all, alternative performances ever since. This is a very rare accomplishment indeed, especially considering the quality of the competition. At the time of the recording this record was remarkable not only for the performances and the recording quality achieved by EMI. It was also remarkable for the program content as the Rachmaninov concerto was a wild card to say the least back then. It still remains a relative rarity today so this was a most unusual programming decision.

In the event the programming choice was inspirational and has remained unique ever since. The remastered sound from 2000 is astonishing in its freshness, range and fidelity. There is increased 'presence' and depth throughout and this is immediately apparent with the opening whip-crack in the Ravel which now grabs the attention as it should rather than being distantly apologetic as it relatively was. There is no reason to hesitate on that score.

The Ravel performance is comprehensively fine with the climactic moments at white heat contrasted with moments where time simply seems to stand still. Michelangeli's famed technique is here heard to marvellous effect - the trills moving like flowing water in the first movement never fail to astound for example. Much the same can be said of the Rachmaninov which comes over as quite the equal of the earlier and more popular concertos in its creative flair. Rachmaninov pushing the boundaries well away from the lush romanticism of the second or third concerto but still totally involving given a performance such as this.

I would suggest that anyone even remotely interested in the two concertos in this program, or even just one of them, would benefit by giving this disc some serious consideration. Generations of collectors cannot all be wrong!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute gem, 9 July 2012
This review is from: Ravel & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
This recording is a gem. The way Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli plays the Ravel Concerto is the most beautiful I can imagine.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AM I MISSING SOMETHING?, 20 Feb 2002
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ravel & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
Of all Michelangeli's recordings this has probably
been the most unanimously and superlatively praised. And among Michelangeli's many votaries I keep finding merit or at least interest in performances where others don't. So why, I wonder, do I not find this one of
his recordings that I return to with most enthusiasm? It's not that I'm cool towards the music -- I am fond of Rachmaninoff and probably fonder than most of this less-played concerto, and I am a serious devotee of Ravel. It's something about the playing, and I'll make a stumbling attempt to say what. Michelangeli was some sort of ultimate in technical control in a world of 'ultimates', Horowitz, Cziffra, Pollini, Kissin etc etc. However even his warmest admirers like myself know what he could be like on the wrong day -- deadpan, metronomic and expressionless, and there is just the faintest hint of that tendency here. In the Rachmaninoff I liked everything except one thing, and that unfortunately was the opening chords, where the squareness of M's rhythm put me off badly. Listening to the composer I got a different impression although the overall approach was not much different, and in the rest of the piece M is fully the composer's equal and even outshines him at the point in the first movement where the excitement starts to build up. In the Ravel I started disappointed by the tameness of the opening whip-crack, and although everything was basically right after that I ended disappointed. It is all just a bit anaemic. You may find Argerich a bit o.t.t. in her impetuosity (she was one of M's pupils and I suspect he was terrified of her), but this piece is a magnet for good performances, in which respect if in no other it resembles the Brahms d minor, and you will not find many bad ones. Try Samson Francois for one.
What has raised just a few eyebrows in reviews I have seen is M's handling of the long solo at the start of the slow movement where he plays left-hand-down throughout, an effect that went through an era of being politically incorrect but which I like very much. Indeed I like M better than anyone else here, and I am delighted that this particular tradition, so much a part of the greatness of Backhaus Horowitz and Serkin as well as Michelangeli himself, is being restored to respectability by Zacharias.
They can't all be out of step except me, I suppose.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Rachmaninov; Funereal Ravel, 23 Sep 2013
By 
GNH (Gloucestershire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ravel & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
I'm a great fan of Michelangeli and some of his recordings of French piano music are absolute classics. Sadly not this time: the first movement of the Ravel, which should be brash, jazzy and vibrant is taken at such a pedestrian, metronomic pace that it has all the life sucked out of it. And even though the beautiful second movement is well judged, I think the approach overall falls well short of what the piece was trying to convey. I liked the Rachmaninov, but I bought the CD for a vibrant Ravel and got a lugubrious quasi-dirge instead. Given that I own about a dozen recordings of this concerto, I'm glad to have it in my collection, but it would not be anywhere near my go-to interpretation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 20 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Ravel & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
Ground breaking Rachmaninov - fabulous!
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Ravel & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos
Ravel & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (Audio CD - 2000)
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