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Piano Recital for Italian/Swiss TV, Lugano 7 April 1981 Recorded live at the RTSI Auditorium. Lugano, Switzerland. 1981

TDK DVD 10 5231 9 DV-MPSR [digitally remastered; 102 mins]

Beethoven Piano sonatas No. 12 in Ab, Op.26 & No. 11 in Bb major, Op.22
Schubert piano Sonata in A minor, D 537
Brahms Four Ballades, Op.10

Received together with the quite remarkable, indeed essential, DVDs of François-René Duchâble in the Beethoven concertos, it is immediately clear that Michelangeli was not 'a visual artist'. He pays no attention to the audience and it disconcerting more than helpful to watch him playing. Nonetheless, it is good to have on film his playing over twenty years ago. The sound is however no more than adequate.

Jeremy Siepmann provides notes which fairly summarise the controversy Michelangeli aroused, from hostility to idolatry. Siepmann concludes that Michelangeli's playing 'renders the very concept of charisma not only irrelevant and ephemeral but cheapening and ignoble'. Sviolatoslav Richter found him "beyond reproach - yet it all remains glacial".

I was glad to have seen this 1981 recital (and especially the close ups of hands and fingers) but remained unmoved. No yet available for purchase from Amazon; perhaps a DVD of both Richter and Michelangeli playing in 1964 & 1970 respectively might be a more intriguing acquisition?

Richter performs Prokofiev's Second Piano Sonata in D minor at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Toronto studios in 1964 and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli plays the works of Beethoven including Sonata No. 3 in C Major for Piano, Op 2, No 3.


© Peter Grahame Woolf