The performance history of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos is, it appears, bound up with a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, every great pianist must almost feel destined to perform these works at least once in his lifetime. But on the other hand, so many heroes of the schellac era have left future generations their excellent recordings that these are filled with awe and respect, their otherwise nimble fingers become lame – and often only a mediocre recording is the result.
The present recording, a milestone among the multitude of televised recordings made in they heyday of analogue recording technique, is highly impressive for its depth of musical focus, even without any visual support. Benedetti Michelangeli’s performance is a far cry from sugar-sweet pedaling and showy virtuosity, rather he displays a highly individual understanding of the intricately constructed musical material. Each phrase blossoms out to become a unique event in time composed. The soloist and the excellent orchestra here give a performance which sums up all Beethoven’s famous compositions and in which the pianist’s amazing sensitivity penetrates even the smallest detail.