Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rubinstein: Two Early Concerto Recordings

Arthur Rubinstein
For what is likely to be my last post of 2011, I present two of Arthur (spelled with an "h" on his earliest recordings) Rubinstein's earliest concerto recordings, which show the pianist, then in his early-to-mid-40s, as quite a firebrand.  The first of these is, I'm pretty sure, his very first concerto recording, with Albert Coates conducting:

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat major, Op. 83
Arthur Rubinstein and the London Symphony conducted by Albert Coates
Recorded October 22 and 23, 1929
HMV D 1746 through 1750 (Album 90), five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 11142.MB)
Link (MP3 files, 56.1 MB)

Rubinstein himself had strong reservations against the issuance of this recording; in his autobiography, he recounts how difficult the sessions were, with the piano placed in the back of the orchestra, far away from Mr. Coates! Nor had he any chance of consulting with Coates before the sessions.  Whatever the circumstances, an exciting performance emerges from these discs, surely one of the fastest on record of the Brahms B-Flat Concerto.  Listen and judge for yourself.

For his next concerto sessions in January 1931, Rubinstein had the services of John Barbirolli, with whom he recorded two works: the Chopin F minor concerto, and this concerto by Mozart:

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488
Arthur Rubinstein with the London Symphony conducted by John Barbirolli
Recorded January 7 and 8, 1931
Victor Musical Masterpiece Set M-147, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 61.15 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 29.1 MB)

This was among the earliest recordings of any Mozart piano concerto.  It was recorded and issued concurrently with Georges Boskoff's of K. 459 on Parlophone and Magda Tagliaferro's of K. 537 on French Decca; only Dohnányi's famous Columbia recording of K. 453 of 1928 is earlier than these.  It also remained in the catalogue well into the 1950's - in contrast to the Brahms, which was displaced by Schnabel's recording of six years later.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


  1. Thanks a lot for these uploads! For me it's the first opportunity to listen to the complete Brahms concert (I miss one record of the set). And the Mozart is also unknown to me. And have a nice christmas and a healthy & musical 2012!

  2. Very fine recordings, thank you.

  3. No surprise that Rubinstein stayed in the catalogue - fantastic recording, thank you for it. Also by far the fastest I've heard the first movement, over 90secs faster than my nearest comparator, and not too many fluffs!! Loved this.