Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5; Mozart: Piano Sonatas K.331 & 576
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Beethoven : Concerto pour piano n°5 - Mozart : Sonates n° 11 & 17 / Solomon, piano - Philharmonia Orchestra, dir. Herbert Menges
The purity and clarity of Solomon's piano playing are frequently described as "classical." But the power, drama, and emotional warmth of his playing might as easily be described as "romantic." This extraordinary "Emperor" Concerto, which was recorded for EMI in the early 1950s, when Solomon was at his peak, certainly has less in common with the interpretations of such classicists as Rudolf Serkin and Wilhelm Backhaus than with those of romanticists like Benno Moiseiwitsch and Arthur Rubinstein. There is the same physical beauty of the playing--gorgeous tone from top to bottom at all dynamic levels--and a kind of technique that makes playing the piano seem as natural as breathing. Solomon's tone is so lovely that one sometimes forgets--even in so fine an accompaniment as the pianist receives from Herbert Menges and the Philharmonia--that other musicians are present. There are very few pianists on record who have managed to play the solo instrument's final notes in the "Emperor" with such unpercussive brilliance and clarity. But with any genuinely great pianist, labels such as "classicist" and "romanticist" don't matter. Solomon's "Emperor"--all the more for its seeming spontaneity and naturalness--is distinguished by intelligence. When the ear is kept in continual expectation during so frequently performed and recorded a piece as the "Emperor," something special is happening. Solomon's playing in Mozart's Sonatas in A Major (K. 331) and D Major (K. 576) is just as special, filling out a flawless disc. --Stephen Wigler