CD-1200(1) RUDOLF SERKIN PLAYS BEETHOVEN: LIVE PERFORMANCES FROM THE 1954 PRADES FESTIVAL. Sonata No. 30 in E Op. 109 [20 June 1954]. 33 Variations On a Waltz by Anton Diabelli Op. 120 [18 June 1954]. Restoration Engineer: Kit Higginson (2007). Notes: Harris Goldsmith. Total time: 76:22 UPC# 017685-120022
BUZZ: Rudolf Serkin (1903-1991) was one of the great Beethoven exponents of the 20th century. Donal Henahan wrote of a performance given by Serkin of the Diabelli in the NY Times:
"Rudolf Serkin's … approach to music and his instrument is devout, all but priestly, and his audience attends to him with the seriousness of a congregation that expects nothing less than high revelation.
Nor does Mr. Serkin disappoint them… The ''Diabelli'' Variations [is] a craggy piece nearly an hour in length that few pianists dare to play in public. Its 33 permutations on Anton Diabelli's little waltz do not fly by under ordinary circumstances. In fact, if there is any music played in purgatory, it is probably a recording of a competent but uninspired pianist hacking away at the ''Diabelli'' Variations. The appeal of this work under Mr. Serkin's hands, however, was constant. He did not try to make the thorniest pages sound sweet, certainly, but his command over the score's design was entire. He played every repeat, of course (almost all the variations have a couple), and since he did not attempt to vary his approach in any way the second time around the casual listener might have grown impatient. Most of the repeats in this piece are not structurally crucial, which could lead one to wonder how the ''Diabelli'' would sound in a stripped-down version.
Such a heresy would never occur to Mr. Serkin."