> Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli: Bach - Scarlatti - Galuppi [TB]: Classical CD Reviews- Aug 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Transcribed Ferruccio BUSONI

Italian Concerto
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in D major, K.96
Sonata in D major, K.29
Sonata in C minor, K.11
Sonata in C major, K.159
Sonata in A major, K.322
Sonata in D minor, K.9
Sonata in B minor, K.27
Baldassare GALUPPI (1706-1785)

Presto in B flat major
Sonata No. 5 in C major
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (piano)
Recorded 20 May 1973, Teatro Kursal, Lugano (Chaconne), 20-22 January 1943, Italian Radio, Milan (Italian Concerto, Scarlatti K.96), 12 February 1952, Teatro Petrarca, Arezzo (K.29), 22 May 1969, Finnish Radio, Helsinki (K.11, K.159, K.322, K.9, K.27, Presto), December 1962, Turin (Sonata No. 5)
AURA AUR 226-2 [70.54]

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli is one of the legendary pianists, a true artist who was absolutely committed to his art, who increasingly demanded performing circumstances which removed him from the regular concert and recital circuits. All this inevitably added to the mystique.

What, then of the performances which have been preserved. Some of them have assumed classic status, and on the evidence of these radio recordings from across three decades, it is easy to understand why. Each performance is scrupulously prepared and fluently delivered, and each has really interesting things to say about the music. Much of the music in this collection dates from the baroque era, but considerations of authenticity of style do not really enter the equation. For Michelangeli was a pianist, and his understanding of the music is the crucial thing. The performances are sensitive to the nature of the music, and no more need be said.

What is contentious here is the variable quality of the recordings, which is easy enough to understand, given that the earliest dates from 1943 and the latest from thirty years later. The Busoni arrangement of the Chaconne from the violin Partita No. 2 opens the programme, and very fine it is. Articulation is clear, control is paramount and there is a clear large-scale vision of music which is profoundly demanding in both technique and interpretation. The Italian Concerto which follows is no less interesting from the musical point of view, but the wiry sound of the vintage recording rules it out of court as a proposition for the general listener. Similar observations might be made of various of the Scarlatti sonatas.

It is interesting to hear Michelangeli in Galuppi, a minor composer in whom he always showed an interest. Here the recorded sound is more pleasing, and the touch is delicately shaped, the phrasing sensitive and subtle. However, the mixed quality of the recorded sound makes this an issue for enthusiasts rather than the general public.

Terry Barfoot

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