Rubinstein: Chopin 4 Ballades (rec. NY, 1959) - Spanish RCA LSC-2370 (ED1)
Jacket VG+ / LP VG+ / Spanish pressing
This handsome LP from Spanish RCA (LSC-2370, Spanish pressing, plum/silver label, stereo) features pianist Artur Rubinstein’s justly celebrated traversal of Chopin’s Four Ballades (No. 1 in G minor Op. 23, No. 2 in F Major Op. 38, No. 3 in A-flat Major Op. 47, and No. 4 in F minor Op. 52), warmly recorded at New York’s Manhattan Center in April 1959.
Wrote the wonderful critic Jed Distler for ClassicsToday: “In an era full of hotshot keyboard youngsters determined to put their individual stamp on Chopin's Ballades and Scherzos by way of willful rubatos and contrived inner voices, Rubinstein's respect for the score, controlled freedom, and unerring sense of proportion prove how sanity and inspiration are not mutually exclusive interpretive properties.”
And wrote Jim Sveda in his The Record Shelf Guide to the Classical Repertoire: “"Although this phenomenally popular body of music has attracted almost every important pianist of the last 150 years, its unlikely that Frédéric Chopin ever found, or will ever find, a more ideal interpreter than Artur Rubinstein... The key to Rubinstein's greatness as a Chopin interpreter was the combination of utter naturalness as a performer and his enormously sophisticated musical mind. Nothing ever seems forced or premeditated: there are no sharp edges or sudden flashes of insight. In fact,the illusion the performances create is one of the music flowing, without benefit of a human intermediary, directly from Chopin's heart to the listener's... At almost every moment in these classic recordings, Rubinstein discovers some wonder of color or phrasing, brings out a beautiful inner voice it seems we've never heard before, and in general creates the impression of a man for whom playing this often fiendishly difficult music is no more difficult than breathing or making love."
Incidentally, the memorable drawing of Rubinstein that graces the jacket front was made by Herschel Levit. There are fine liner notes on the reverse side of the jacket – printed in Spanish only – by Jim Lyons.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is VERY GOOD+. There is slight wear and discoloration along the edges, a tiny chip to the spine, and a small tape repair to the rear panel, but that is all. There are no seamsplits, bends, owners’ markings, or other defects, and the album remains solid, bright, glossy, and highly attractive – overall, this rates as a very good collector's copy.
The condition of the LP is VERY GOOD+. Though the surfaces are not CD silent, and there are a few scattered tics, in general the playback is excellent. However, those requiring flawless or near-MINT surfaces are kindly advised to look elsewhere. Overall, this rates as a very good collector's copy.