P1299. ARTHUR RUBINSTEIN, w.Antal Dorati Cond. London Phil.: Piano Concerto #3 in c; 'Emperor' Piano Concerto #5 in E-flat (both Beethoven). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-796, Live Performance, 7 Dec., 1967. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Rubinstein believed that a foremost danger for young pianists is to practice too much. Rubinstein regularly advised that young pianists should practice no more than three hours a day. ‘I was born very, very lazy and I don't always practice very long’, he said, ‘but I must say, in my defense, that it is not so good, in a musical way, to overpractice. When you do, the music seems to come out of your pocket. If you play with a feeling of 'Oh, I know this,' you play without that little drop of fresh blood that is necessary – and the audience feels it’. Of his own practice methods, he said, ‘At every concert I leave a lot to the moment. I must have the unexpected, the unforeseen. I want to risk, to dare. I want to be surprised by what comes out. I want to enjoy it more than the audience. That way the music can bloom anew. It's like making love. The act is always the same, but each time it's different’.
Warm, lyrical, and aristocratic in his interpretations, Arthur Rubinstein performed impressively into extremely old age, and he was a keyboard prodigy almost from the time he could climb onto a piano bench. He came from a mercantile rather than a musical family, but fixated on the piano as soon as he heard it. At age three he impressed Joseph Joachim, and by the age of seven he was playing Mozart, Schubert, and Mendelssohn at a charity concert in his hometown. In Warsaw, he had piano lessons with Alexander Róóycki; then in 1897 he was sent to Berlin to study piano with Heinrich Barth and theory with Robert Kahn and Max Bruch, all under Joachim's general supervision. In 1899 came his first notable concerto appearance in Potsdam. Soon thereafter, just barely a teenager, he began touring Germany and Poland.
After brief studies with Paderewski in Switzerland in 1903, Rubinstein moved to Paris, where he met Ravel, Dukas, and Jacques Thibaud, and played Saint-Saëns' g minor Concerto to the composer's approval. That work would remain a flashy Rubinstein vehicle for six decades, and it was the concerto he offered in his American début with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Carnegie Hall in 1906. His under-prepared American tour was not especially well-received, though, so he withdrew to Europe for further study. Rubinstein became an adept and sensitive chamber musician and accompanist; his 1912 London début was accompanying Pablo Casals, and during World War I he toured with Eugène Ysaÿe.
He gave several successful recitals in Spain during the 1916-1917 season, and soon toured Latin America. Along the way he developed a great flair for Hispanic music; Heitor Villa-Lobos went so far as to dedicate to Rubinstein his ‘Rudepoema’, one of the toughest works in the repertory. Although Rubinstein would later be somewhat typecast as a Chopin authority, his readings of de Falla, Granados and Albéniz would always be equally idiomatic.
Rubinstein's international reputation grew quickly, although he was by his own account a sloppy technician. In the mid-1930s he withdrew again and drilled himself in technique. By 1937 he reemerged as a musician of great discipline, poise, and polish - qualities he would mostly retain until his farewell recital in London in 1976, at the age of 89. Rubinstein's temperament had sufficient fire for Beethoven but enough poetry for Chopin; his tempi and dynamics were always flexible, but never distorted. His 1960s recordings for RCA of nearly all Chopin's solo piano music have been considered basic to any record collection since their release, and his version of Falla's NIGHTS IN THE GARDENS OF SPAIN is another classic, as are his various late collaborations with the Guarneri Quartet.
Rubinstein became a naturalized American citizen in 1946, but he maintained residences in California, New York, Paris, and Geneva; two of his children were born in the United States, one in Warsaw, and one in Buenos Aires. He had married Aniela Mlynarska in 1932, but womanizing remained integral to his reputation as an irrepressible bon vivant. He maintained that the slogan ‘wine, women, and song’ as applied to him meant 80 percent women and only 20 percent wine and song. Still, there was a serious side to his life. After World War II, he refused ever again to perform in Germany, in response to the Nazi extermination of his Polish family. Rubinstein became a strong supporter of Israel; in gratitude, an international piano competition in his name was instituted in Jerusalem in 1974. His honors included the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society of London, the U.S. Medal of Freedom (1976), and membership in the French Legion of Honor.”
- James Reel, allmusic.com
"Antal Dorati, an internationally known conductor who championed the music of Bartok and who led the National Symphony in Washington from 1970 to 1977, was a warm, hearty conductor, not so concerned with refined interpretive detail as with vital, sensible statements of the music at hand. Aside from his wide-ranging career in concert life, he made more than 500 recordings, many of them sonic showpieces, which further spread his fame.
Mr. Dorati was born in Budapest. At the age of 14 he entered the Liszt Academy, where his teachers included Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly. Upon his graduation at the age of 18 he became a coach at the Budapest Royal Opera, where he made his conducting debut in 1924. In 1928 he became Fritz Busch's assistant at the Dresden Opera, and from 1929 to 1933 he was music director at the smaller Munster Opera. Although he never held another full-time operatic post, he periodically guest-conducted opera the rest of his life.
Mr. Dorati's next years were devoted primarily to dance, which presumably sharpened his sense of rhythmic propulsion in music. From 1933 to 1941 he was a conductor with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, touring the world with the company, and from 1941 to 1945 was music director of American Ballet Theater. Throughout this period Mr. Dorati continued his guest conducting in the symphonic repertory, making his American concert debut in 1937 with the National Symphony. After World War II he returned to the orchestral world, starting with the reconstruction of the Dallas Symphony as its music director from 1945 to 1949. He became an American citizen in 1947.
After the Dallas orchestra came 11 years with the Minneapolis Symphony, during which time he also appeared frequently in Europe - principally with the London Symphony and the Philharmonia Hungarica, a West German-based ensemble of Hungarian refugees. In the early 1970's, as that orchestra's honorary president, he recorded all the Haydn symphonies with the ensemble.
In the 1960s, Mr. Dorati established his residence in Switzerland and served as music director of the BBC Symphony (1963-66) and the Stockholm Philharmonic (1966-70). As music director of the National Symphony he led the inaugural concert in 1971 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He became senior conductor of the Royal Philharmonic in London in 1975, moving up to conductor laureate in 1978. His last full-time post was as music director of the Detroit Symphony from 1977 to 1981.
Throughout his career, Mr. Dorati advocated a wide range of 20th-century music. Above all he prized the work of his teacher and compatriot Bartok, music for which his own gifts for strong rhythmic articulation and vivid instrumental color were particularly suited. He was also a composer himself, in an idiom that was both modernist yet accessibly melodic, and he often conducted his own large-scaled scores. His autobiography, NOTES OF SEVEN DECADES, was published in 1979."
- John Rockwell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 15 Nov., 1988