Rubinstein in the indian summer of his career
Marc Haegeman | Gent, Belgium | 06/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Following their release of Artur Rubinstein's Grieg, Chopin and Saint-Saëns concertos, Deutsche Grammophon issues another fascinating programme about the great pianist, recorded two years earlier, in August 1973, at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Rubinstein can be heard and seen in Beethoven's 3rd and Brahms's 1st, both accompanied by the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Bernard Haitink.
Produced by the same team, with Hugo Käch directing, the great Max Wilcox who had been recording Rubinstein since 1959 as audio producer, and Robert Hofer responsible for the photography, this DVD provides further insight in the artistry of one of the most significant pianists of the previous century in the indian summer ("autumn" would be too strong a word for the 86-year old Rubinstein) of his career. Rubinstein at this point approached both concertos with an unforced, patrician distance, avoiding all excesses in sound and tempi, as if he wants to let the music speak for itself, at times almost turning it into chamber music. It's an old master returning once more to these works he has played, loved and explored for decades. Yet there's no sign of fatigue or errancy. Very few have been able to make this music sing with such freshness, clarity of line and naturalness of declamation as Rubinstein did. The Largo and the Adagio sections boast a mesmerizing serenity and almost nocturnal quality. Eventually, the simplicity of his music-making, the humanity reflecting Rubinstein's own rich vision of life, have something profoundly touching.
Schubert's Impromptu in A flat major (D. 899/4), Brahms's Capriccio in B flat minor, op. 76/2 and his Intermezzo in B flat minor, op. 117/2, Chopin's Scherzo in B flat minor, op. 31 are concluding the programme and are much in the same vein.
Soundwise the "Artur Rubinstein in concert" DVD is preferable to the earlier release because of the warmer acoustics of the Concertgebouw hall which seem to suit Rubinstein's lyrical and spacious approach better. The playing of the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Bernard Haitink also boasts more character than the London Symphony under a neutral and often bland André Prévin. The rich and distinct sonorities of the Dutch orchestra are a joy from start to end.
Curiously, this DVD gives us the exact same bonus as the earlier release with the "Rubinstein at 90" film, showing the pianist in conversation with Robert MacNeil at his Parisian home in 1977. Good as it is, there are plenty of other insightful documentaries of Rubinstein around which could have been offered as an extra.
Really good...if you adjust the sound
DWAinLA | L.A., CA | 01/26/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I first played this dvd, I was so disappointed with the muddy sound, I just threw it in a drawer for a couple of weeks. It was hard to imagine that Max Wilcox, who engineered many wonderful CDs had anything to do with it! I have a feeling that the expansive acoustics of the Concertgebouw might be a little too expansive when there is no audience present. But after some further tweaking (such as turning the bass down almost all the way, and boosting highs)the sound is pretty good. And BTW, I'm not new to this - most other 70's dvds on DG (like Karajan, Bernstein, Pollini)have much better sound.) But this dvd has such wonderful artists, who have few dvds available, it really is a good acquisition (just remember to adjust the sound!)"
Don't pass this one up
Stanley Newton | Huntington Beach, California | 01/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wonderful music and performance. Video and audio quality are outstanding. There are a few shortcomings, but they have to be tolerated. Hopefully there will be another release in the future aimed at pianists who would like to be able to observe some clues as to how the great master executed some of those difficult passages. In this one we are entertained by views of the organ pipes (aren't they beautiful!) and the highlights off the bassoon, and other such distractions. Yes, I would rather be observing the performance, but I am delighted to have this one in my collection. Highly recommended."
Rubenstein in Concert-really excellent!
Sally A. Ramsden | Kent, WA | 11/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I ordered this DVD because Artur Rubenstein was one of my favorite pianists. Also, I wanted to play it for my piano class of students. It did not disappoint, it was excellent. It even included an interview, which was a nice surprise."