LABELS: EMI Réferences
WORKS: Music by Bach, Scarlatti, Beethoven, Brahms, Grieg, Granados
PERFORMER: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
CATALOGUE NO: CDH 7 64490 2 DDD
In 1957 Michelangeli recorded Rachmaninov’s Fourth Concerto and the Ravel G major with the Philharmonia. The LP did much to create a legend that Michelangeli’s subsequent tendency to cancel personal appearances only enhanced.
The earliest recordings on this compilation from 78s reveal one of the greatest perfectionists among pianists of our time, already, at the age of 19, massively sure of himself, exquisitely shading comparatively lightweight pieces by Granados and Grieg, yet with the rhythmic firmness which has remained so characteristic of his playing.
Beethoven’s Op. 2/3, recorded two years later, is precise to the ultimate degree, with a staggeringly fast finale. But it’s in the Bach-Busoni Chaconne and Brahms’s Paganini Variations, both recorded in London in 1948 when Michelangeli was in his late twenties, that he spread his wings to their full extent and achieved an unsurpassed sense of grandeur.
Only three tracks suffer from surface sizzle and even the earliest recordings show the wide range of colours in Michelangeli’s touch. Adrian Jack