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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Chopin / Arthur Rubinstein, Skrowaczewski, Wallenstein – Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

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This week’s Cover2Cover is part of a week-long series on our podcasting channel I have dubbed “The One-Two Punch”, focused on pairs of concerti that follow that numerical sequence. Our share is focused on the coupling of Chopin’s two piano concerti featuring the late great Arthur Rubinstein.

Here is a post tken nearly verbaim from Classics Today by Jed Distler:

[Rubinstein’s 1961 Chopin E minor concerto recording is easily] the finest of Rubinstein’s three recorded versions (indeed, one of his best recordings of anything), where panache and poetry fuse to magical, impeccably timed effect. Obviously Stanislaw Skrowaczewski’s beautifully balanced and shapely accompaniment inspires the soloist.
The F minor concerto performance is not quite on the same level, mainly because Rubinstein’s straightforward brio often yields perfunctory, even glib returns. For instance, there’s more anguish and drama in the slow movement’s octave outbursts than Rubinstein’s hard-nosed reading suggests, while opportunities for poetic nuance in the outer movements also go by unnoticed. […]
In addition, Alfred Wallenstein uncovers important orchestral detail many conductors ignore, such as the motives in the finale that pass back and forth between the solo wind players. Wallenstein also complies with two misguided textual emendations that Rubinstein always asked for–a foreshortened final tutti at the first movement’s end, and a “normal” bowing of the violins’ percussive ponticello (back of the bow) effect in the finale’s mazurka episode.
Happy Listening!

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
All tracks feature Arthur Rubinstein, piano

Piano Concerto No.1 in E Minor, Op.11
New Symphony Orchestra Of London
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, conducting
Recorded June 8 & 9, 1961 at Walthamstow, London

Piano Concerto No.2 in F Minor, Op.21
Symphony Of The Air
Alfred Wallenstein, conducting
Recorded January 20, 1958, Carnegie Hall, NYC.

RCA Red Seal – 82876-67902-2, Sony BMG Music Entertainment – 82876-67902-2
Format: SACD, Hybrid, Stereo, Compilation, Remastered

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