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In addition to their unwavering respect for each composer’s text (often involving an exhaustive scrutiny of manuscripts and original editions), Serkin’s interpretations were distinguished by a unique brand of austere, even severe, intensity and directness. The palpable concentration and nervous energy of his playing was melded to a compelling sweep and authority and a constant pursuit of the long line. Rarely if ever did the forward motion of a piece sag or lose focus in Serkin’s hands. His immersion in the essence of every work was total, as was his abhorrence of showmanship or display. “What he hears within him is unsurpassed in purity and nobility; and what he feels is felt with the utmost sincerity and selflessness,” wrote Abram Chasins in 1957. The present compilation focuses on Serkin’s “middle period,” pre-stereo solo Beethoven recordings as documentation of his approach to that composer in familiar sonatas that often appeared on his recitals.
CD-1141(2) RUDOLF SERKIN PLAYS BEETHOVEN. The 1945-1952 Solo Piano Recordings for American Columbia. CD No. 1: Piano Sonata No.14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op.27 No.2 (“Moonlight”), May 28-30,1951. Piano Sonata No.8 in C Minor, Op.13 (“Pathetique”), June 5, 1945. Piano Sonata No.23 in F Minor, Op.57 (“Appassionata”), July 14 & 29, 1947. Piano Sonata No.26 in E-Flat, Op.81a (“Lebewohl”), May 1 and 28-30, 1951. CD No. 2: Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.21 in C, Op.53 (“Waldstein”), September 8-10, 1952. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.30 in E, Op.109, July 22, 1952. Beethoven: Fantasy in G Minor/B Major, Op.77, December 1, 1947. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.24 in F-Sharp, Op.78, December 1, 1947. Total time 142 min. [AAD] Technical reconstruction (2004): Graham Newton. Liner notes: Donald Manildi. UPC #17685-11412