Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Quintessence of Integrity and Honesty...Rubinstein

The other day I watched a performance of a trio of giants; Artur Rubinstein, Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky, playing Mendelssohn's great Trio, in Rubinstein's living room in Hollywood during the 1940's, I believe.
It is indeed a unique experience to be witness to three artists playing in a living room, each at the top of his pyramid among the great performers, and I am fortunate to have this copy in my collection. The miracle created by the collective sound of these titans is more than evident, even though my copy is not a digital revivifying of the event.
What struck me the most is how Rubinstein confronted the music, and how he almost always confronted the music he played, especially after about age forty.
He has always induced me into consideration that he was nothing more or less than a pure medium through which his message traveled - neither a trace of hubris nor a particularized personality is evident - a kind of benign confrontation with the notes he produced, and the language that results in the recordings that we can listen to -this is Rubinstein.
I sometimes wonder what Rubinstein might have become if those first years were not squandered by way of the fireworks he loved to light, rather than the music that was there for him to mold into being?

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