Carnaval op. 9; Three Pieces from Album for the Young op. 68 (Michelangeli)



Op. 9 is served whimsically garnished with sprigs of op.68 at front and rear. The performance seems to me just as eccentric as this presentation. The opening tempos are so slow that Wintertime is snowbound and Sailor’s Song in the doldrums. After that, even op.9 sounds like an Album for the Old. Préambule is over-weighty; Arlequin has a nervous twitch; Pierrot is arthritic.

       There is some reparation thereafter; but the damage has been done. Seldom can so fine a pianist have struck so jarring an interpretative note. I fear that striving for carnival novelty has ended in travesty. The traditional stereotypes are reversed; the Latin lightness and ebullience of Schumann are flatly denied by the Teutonic heaviness and deliberation of Michelangeli. This music is decidedly not his gift, in my view – nor anyone’s purchase, save for those more interested in pianists than piano music.


The Musical Times, Feb., 1976 (p.143) © the estate of eric sams