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Conc. Piano 4 - Benedetti-Michelangeli, Gracis

Album Summary

>Ravel, Maurice : Concerto for Piano in G major
Performer Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

This album is part of a series of twenty must-have titles from the Warner Classics catalog, featuring their original and well-known iconic covers. Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli brings his proverbial refinement and technical mastery to two works composed within a few years of each other: Ravel's exquisite, jazz-inflected G major concerto and Rachmaninov's 4th concerto, more discreetly Romantic than its two much-loved predecessors. With his infinitely subtle gradations of colour and touch, Michelangeli proves characteristically mesmerizing in both.

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli was born in Italy in 1920. He is both a legendary performer - admired for his perfectionism, his immaculate technique and his sense of color and poetry - and a mysterious figure: he was aloof on stage, a very private man and rarely played more than 20 concerts in a season.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
In crude and subjective terms Michelangeli makes the spine tingle in a way no others can approach. How does he do it? This is the secret every pianist would love to know, and which no writer can ever pin down. But it's possible to give some general indications.

It isn't a question of technique, at least not directly, because Ashkenazy, for example (on Decca) can match their most virtuoso feats; indirectly, yes, it's relevant, in that there are dimensions in Michelangeli's pianism which allow musical conceptions to materialise which might not dawn on others. Nor is it a question of structure, in the narrow sense of the awareness of overall proportions, judicious shaping of paragraphs, continuity of thought; but the way structure is projected and the way it's transmuted into emotional drama; these things are critical.

In one way or another most of the recordings in this section respond vividly to the excitement of Rachmaninov's dramatic climaxes; but with Michelangeli these climaxes seem to burst through the music of their own volition, as though an irresistible force of nature has been released. It's this crowning of a structure by release, rather than by extra pressure, which gives the performance a sense of exaltation and which more than anything else sets it on a different level. It enables him to be freer in many details, yet seem more inevitable as a whole.

The impact of all this would be negligible without a sympathetically attuned conductor and orchestra. Fortunately that's exactly what Michelangeli has. Michelangeli's Ravel is open to criticism, partly because many listeners feel uncomfortable with his persistent left-beforeright mannerism in the slow movement and with his unwarranted textual tinkerings (like changing the last note). But he's as finely attuned to this aloof idiom as to its temperamental opposite in the Rachmaninov. And although the recording can't entirely belie its vintage, it does justice to one of the finest concerto records ever made.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London (1957-03-07&1957-03-08&1957-).


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Works Details

>Ravel, Maurice : Concerto for Piano in G major
  • Performer: Arturo Michelangeli (Piano)
  • Conductor: Ettore Gracis
  • Notes: No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London (1957-03-07&1957-03-08&1957-)
  • Running Time: 45 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1929-1931