Beethoven • Ravel • Chopin

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven; Ravel; Chopin
LABELS: ICA Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven • Ravel • Chopin
WORKS: Beethoven: Piano Sonata in C, Op. 2 No. 3; Ravel: Valses nobles et sentimentales; Chopin: Andante spianato and grande polonaise brilliant, Op. 22
PERFORMER: Arthur Rubinstein (piano)


Recorded at the concert hall of BBC Broadcasting House in 1963, with a 1959 account of the Andante spianato and grande polonaise as a ‘bonus’ track, this recital reveals the multifaceted artistry of Arthur Rubinstein at its most heart-warming. The early Beethoven Sonata is irresistibly exuberant in its opening Allegro, as well as its Scherzo and light-footed finale; in the Adagio Rubinstein brings poetry to the fragmentary cross-handed phrases.

A sense of delight permeates his performance of the Ravel waltzes; he digs into the scrunchy textures and lets the composer’s lime-and-soda harmonies fizz and gleam throughout this rhythm-driven yet never hurried interpretation.

His Chopin Nocturne is cool and pure, the G minor Ballade refulgent with drama (though there’s a moment of sound distortion in the coda, unfortunately); and the Andante spianato and grande polonaise has a mischievous flair that culminates in an unscheduled treble whoosh in the final bars – understandably, it brings the house down. Shame about the sound quality, which makes the recital sound much older than it is. But it’s still a concert to treasure, full of Rubinstein's unquenchable spirit.


Jessica Duchen