Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (5 January 1920 – 12 June 1995) was a reclusive Italian virtuoso pianist renowned for his unparalleled technical mastery, exquisite control, and profound musical insight. He is considered one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century.
At ten years old, Michelangeli began his formal music education at the Milan Conservertory, where he graduated with honours at the age of 14. Although Michelangeli’s parents were passionate about music, they did not want Arturo to become a pianist. In view of his family’s attitude Michelangeli studied medicine for several years although he never set music aside and continued to play regularly.
In May 1938, at the age of eighteen, Michelangeli began his international career by entering the Ysaÿe International Festival in Brussels, Belgium, where he finished seventh. According to Arthur Rubinstein (who was one of the judges), Michelangeli gave “an unsatisfactory performance, but already showed his impeccable technique.” A year later he won the first prize in the Geneva International Music Competition, where he was acclaimed as “a new Liszt“ by pianist Alfred Cortot. Upon winning the competition, Benito Mussolini gave Michelangeli a teaching position at the Martini Conservatory in Bologna, Italy. The outbreak of World War II interrupted Michelangeli‘s career just as it had begun. Despite future Queen of Italy Maria José Savoia‘s efforts to exonerate him from the army, Michelangeli was drafted. He joined the Italian airforce, and as soon as the war was over, returned to music
Michelangeli remained a notoriously reluctant recording artist throughout his career, feeling unable to commit his performances to disc for fear that they would not match his self-imposed high standards. Yet there were a few occasions on which he managed to overcome such qualms. The most notable took place in March 1957 at No. 1 Studio in Abbey Road where, after giving a successful performance of the then rarely-heard Rachmaninov Fourth Piano Concerto at theRoyal Festival Hall, Michelangeli readily agreed to record the work for EMI alongside the Ravel Piano Concerto. Originally released in 1958 on His Masters Voicethe results were inspired. In the Rachmaninov, the heroic virtuosity of Michelangeli’s playing banished any doubts that this composition was a poor shadow of its predecessors, while the cool demeanour and exquisite subtlety of the Ravel slow movement remains peerless.
Cut directly from the original analog master tapes, through our unique all valve 1965 Ortofon / Lyrec vinyl cutting system in stereo. No equalisation, compression or any other processing was added during the cutting process.
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Original master tapes.