Piano Street Magazine

Michelangeli Plays Beethoven Sonata Op. 2 no. 3

October 17th, 2008 in Top Video Picks by | 4 comments

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920 -1995) was an Italian classical pianist. He is considered among the most commanding and individualistic piano virtuosi of the 20th century, alongside names such as Vladimir Horowitz and Sviatoslav Richter.
Along with Ferruccio Busoni, he is often described as the most important Italian pianist ever.
He obtained his soloist’s diploma at the age of fourteen, and was immediately launched into his concert career. His extraordinary talent was recognized instantly and in 1939 he won first prize in the prestigious Geneva International Competition, under a jury headed by Ignaz Paderewski. His importance as a key figure among 20th-century pianists was confirmed when Cortot said:
“Here is a new Liszt”.

Michelangeli built a reputation as much on the frequency of his cancellation of concerts as on his piano performances.
He recorded for Deutsche Grammophon between 1971 and 1989, including four Mozart and three Beethoven concerti with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra under Carlo Maria Giulini. The Beethoven recordings are from live television broadcasts.

Michelangeli’s early recordings were made for HMV in Milan from 1939 to 1942. In addition to works by Grieg, Albéniz, Granados and Mompou, some excellent Scarlatti sonatas stand out, as does his rendition of the Beethoven Piano Sonata in C major Op. 2 No. 3 .
On this video, he plays the first movement from that same work, recorded in 1970.

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  • Susan Kossey says:

    This reminds me of a comment i just read by Tim Page from an article he wrote for the NY Times November 17, 1985 entitled ‘Beethoven’s Sonatas Remain A Pianistic Everest.’ Let me see if i can find the exact words he used… ‘Seriousness should never be equated with profundity; the bawdy humor, of say, Canterbury Tales is at least as meaningful as the musings of a gloomy existential philosopher. These performances, while technically assured and well recorded, can only be recommended to those who put their performances on a pedestal, and refuse to laugh with Shakespeare and Joyce.’ Now, this is the exact reason that I love Michelangeli. He puts a lot of passion and script into Beethoven. He’s not afraid to mold it to ‘fit’ more than just the philosophical side – which works somewhat with the last three -but terribly with the opus 90 or with this Sonata.

  • Dear Sirs/Friends,
    I am from southern India and new to this blog. Ours is famous for Carnatic Music. However I like classical music from West. Several years back, I happened to watch live Yanni’s Tribute to Taj Mahal programme. Then I saw Amadeus Mozart Film a few years ago. It was a great classical film. Though I don’t understand the nuances of the Music, I enjoy it very much.
    Michelangeli’s Beethovan’s Sonata Opera 2 no.3 in this video is very delectable and fine.
    I thank U all for this nice souvenir. Pl. keep sending the concerts. Thank U again. R.S. Rajamani

  • 88melter says:

    This is from Canadian television. It is available from Amazon. Michelangeli has sometimes been credited with originating the modern trend of the complete rejection of any and all wrong notes in performance and recordings.
    Since he achieved this himself, he proved it could be done, sans editing, etc. Many players now either consciously restrict their repertoire, as ABM did, or else play with a precision that inhibits expression, shall we say!
    I like this playing and have owned this DVD for some years. I consider ABM a Composer’s Pianist, because he plays what is there, the way it has been indicated. I also like Arrau, for the equal and opposite reasons.
    There is so much substance to most piano masterworks that a plethora of approaches will yield varying and satisfying results, even if some of them are essentially contradictory in their aims and execution.
    The Beauty of Variety: without it there could be one pianist at a time for the world,with it, we can all each be a different pianist each time we play! MBB

  • Vladimir Dounin says:

    I was a volunteer – guard at Great Hall of Moscow conservatory. So my duty was to bring the celebrities from a car to the stage and back. This “job” gave me a chance to listen to rehearsals and concerts all of them.

    I can tell “about the price” of such perfect performance. Michelahgeli arrived around 10:00 on a day of his concert. He was not alone, he was accompanied with the best tuner of the USSR – Bogino (by the way, brilliant pianist from Neuhaus school).

    Beethoven op.2, no 3 was the first piece in Michelangeli’s program, and he started rehearsal with this sonata.

    However, after 20-30 seconds he stopped and asked Bogino to correct some problem in a keyboard (probably, not even hardness of the keys. It took 10-15 minutes to fix the problem. After another half minute of playing Michelangeli stopped again, and Bogino had to fix another note… They worked in this way up to 05:00 PM – SEVEN HOURS.

    After short 2 hours break Michelangeli played the whole program absolutely perfectly.

    The next day, we – students gave him a few minutes long standing ovation after he told us about his own Conservatory in Italy, where he taught and supported all his students from his own pocket.

    i was shocked to read later that this Michelangeli’s Conservatory was forcibly closed (the others could not tolerate such a competitor to them) and he has to leave Italy for ever.

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