Friday, November 11, 2011

Michelangeli and Beethoven - An Astounding Experience...

Those who are familiar with the eccentric and unpredictable ways of the great Italian pianist, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, know that this reclusive genius recorded a relatively small number of performances. Arguably, among the more important events in his recording span were the 1st, 3rd and 5th piano concertos of Beethoven, with Guilini and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, in live performances. Keeping in mind that Michelangeli, more than once, failed to appear for scheduled concerts, leaving shocked and, I'm sure, rather angry audiences looking at a piano which would not be played - knowing of these sorts of actions taken by this genius, let us be thankful for the capturing of the astounding feats of this musician, both on video and audio.
One of the more priceless assets left by Michelangeli may well be these Beethoven concertos on video.
For me, even the magic of his Debussy; the indescribable sounds, seemingly of an instrument we cannot quite identify, but intimating the sound of the piano, as only he and the great Walter Gieseking could promulgate - even that form of pianistic magic does not exceed, in my view, the journeys that Michelangeli undergoes as he enters the universe that Beethoven gave to those of us fortunate enough to have succeeded, not preceded him.
I know of no other performances that better form a higher level of dialogue between piano and orchestra that Beethoven challenges the pianist to uncover. The conversational values that Michelangeli imparts in these works are, for me, a true coruscation; almost as if I had never really heard these works before. Guilini, the conductor, appears to have grasped the magic of the moments as well - having seen Guilini in many performances; knowing well of the massive integrity he possessed in quest of that special form of 'truth' this great conductor relentlessly sought; to me, in these performances, Guilini appears to exceed even his own expectations, made possible, perhaps, by the unique chemistry formed between him and Michelangeli in these wondrous documents.
I would ask those of you who know of Michelangeli, but have not yet seen these performances, to procure them, and decide for yourselves...

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