‘The Legendary Moscow Recital’ - Piano Works
Arthur Rubinstein pf
Medici Arts DVD 307 8548 Buy now
(97’ · NTSC · 4:3 · PCM mono · 0)
Chopin Barcarolle, Op 60. Etudes – Op 10 No 4; ‘Black Keys’, Op 10 No 5; ‘Harp Study’, Op 25 No 1; Op 25 No 5. Impromptu No 3, Op 51. Nocturne No 8, Op 27 No 2. Piano Sonata No 2, Op 35. Polonaises – No 5, Op 44; No 6, ‘Heroic’, Op 53 Debussy 24 Préludes – Ondine Schumann Des Abends, Op 12 No 1 Villa-Lobos Prole do bebê, Book 1 – Polichinelle
Recorded live at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on October 1, 1964.
Considering his celebrity, longevity and huge studio recording legacy, there is very little film of Rubinstein in concert. Indeed, this is the only full solo recital one can recall and as such is immensely valuable, not least because the printed programme is devoted entirely to the composer with whom he was most closely associated and because, fine as are most of his studio recordings, Rubinstein played with a greater freedom and daring when in front of an audience.
The film of the occasion, preserved in the vaults of the Russian State television archives for nearly 50 years, provides a vivid reminder of this great artist’s idiosyncrasies – the dignified, immobile posture, the expressionless face and the little tug at his lapels before the start of each item.
The playing, of course, is heart-warming, the kind that can absorb the odd fluff, though the memory lapse in the Scherzo of the Sonata is disconcerting (he has to make an unwritten repeat before ad libbing his way into the Trio). Everything seems so inevitable and right, whether in the caressing phrases of the Barcarolle or the bravura of the A flat Polonaise, the inevitable trademark conclusion to any Rubinstein recital. Aficionados will relish his only known performance of the Aeolian Harp Study, Op 25 No 1. (The bonuses are two short – 1’45’ – silent films of excerpts from two études shot in slow motion in Canada in 1928.)