Arthur Rubinstein plays Beethoven and Chopin

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Antal Dorati

Royal, "King Arthur" delivers a Fourth Concerto by Beethoven and a Chopin Polonaise of legend.

That evening of 1967 in London, a young man of eighty years old performed on stage at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Hungarian conductor Antal Doráti. "I have never met a man as happy as I am!," he liked to say about himself. That evening, listening to him play a rendition of Beethoven's Fourth Concerto full of luminous grace, there couldn't be a happier audience either.

If there were one word to define Arthur Rubinstein's artistry, it would be song. "King Arthur," as he was nicknamed, lets the music sing as it flows through his magic fingers. He overcomes with disarming facility all the difficulties, trills and arpeggios. Only blindness, ten years later, finally overcame this born pianist, who as a child prodigy, made his official debut at the age of fourteen with the Berliner Philharmoniker and soon became an international star.

Although he adopted American nationality after the Second World War, Poland (his motherland, where he was born), always remained close to his heart. Few pianists have played Chopin's music as naturally as he did, as in the famous "Heroic" Polonaise he performed in the encore that evening of 1967. Chopin's wish that the work should be played "without crashing thunder" is fulfilled by King Arthur. Pure music.

This programme is constituted of various archives from the BBC (Arthur Rubinstein plays Beethoven, filmed by Antony Craxton at the Royal Festival Hall, London, 7 December 1967 and Omnibus: Rubinstein speaks, filmed by Anthony Wilkinson, 1968) and the Michel Hirvy collection from Archives Canada (The piano revealed by the film).

Duration : 50 min
Location : Royal Festival Hall (London, Great Britain)
Recording date : 1967
Production date : 2000
Production : © Idéale Audience / Img Artists / BBC

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