Grieg, Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor

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COMPOSERS: Grieg,Schumann
LABELS: Decca Legends
WORKS: Piano Concerto in A minor
PERFORMER: Radu Lupu (piano); LSO/André Previn
CATALOGUE NO: 466 383-2 ADD Reissue (1973)
This recording from 1973 well deserves its status in Decca’s Legendary Performances series. But it’s hard to imagine finer interpretations than those by Dinu Lipatti with the Philharmonia (despite ageing sound quality), which represent a spiritual viewpoint very different from Lupu’s. In the Schumann, Lipatti brings out the music’s intimacy, the sense of deeply personal communication: his playing speaks almost conversationally in the first two movements; the last movement is lively, rhythmically decisive and fleet-fingered. By contrast, Lupu’s grand-scale vision makes the Concerto a matter of life and death; the first movement is a solemn song, the last a triumphant affirmation. This approach is perhaps more wholly successful in the Grieg; here, Lupu’s magisterial, elemental power, as at the height of the first movement cadenza, is overwhelming, while the reflective moments are exquisite to the point of mysticism. Lipatti’s recording is less extreme and more intimate, filled with moments of incandescent beauty (the trills at the end of the cadenza, the arabesques of the slow movement). Jessica Duchen