BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 “Emperor;” Piano Sonata No. 4 in E-flat, Op. 7 – Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, piano/Jean Martinon conducts Lausanne Festival Orchestra – Music&Arts

by | Jul 1, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73
“Emperor;” Piano Sonata No. 4 in E-flat, Op. 7 – Arturo Benedetti
Michelangeli, piano/Jean Martinon conducts Lausanne Festival Orchestra
Music&Arts CD-1162  75:38 (Distrib. Albany)****:

More fleet playing in the grand manner from Arturo Benedetti
Michelangeli (1920-1995), the suave and elusive keyboard magician whose
limited repertory still beguiles his admirers. Because of the many
repetitions of the actual inscribed materials, collectors are forced,
as they are with Hofmann and to a degree with Furtwaengler, to
appreciate the variations of individual detail in the proffered
recordings.  The 1970 Bonn reading of the E-flat Sonata is
altogether more expansive than the 1971 Munich inscription included in
the Philips Great Pianists of the 20th Century series.  The
interior movements render us Michelangeli’s delicious expressive
palette; and the rounded landings at cadences for the third movement
Allegro are both aggressive and cushioned by a very active pedal.

The last movement might well approach Michelangeli’s conception of the
Hammerklavier, had he ever deigned to inscribe it. The Emperor Concerto
is yet another reading to savor, with its rather uncompromising, driven
tempo in the opening Allegro that still manages Michelangeli and
Martinon their moments of high relief. Detractors are bound to find the
bravura approach too glib for their tastes; but even the severest
critic will be agog at the sheer fluency of execution and consistent
sheen in the piano dynamics.  While there are something like a
half dozen Michelangeli readings of this concerto, the one to own –
given a pirate’s ambition (or the CSO Radiothon people’s initiative) to
release it – is the mighty collaboration between Michelangeli, Andre
Previn, and the Chicago Symphony.

–Gary Lemco

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