Radu Lupu – Beethoven- Piano Sonatas #14, 8 & 21 (1973)

FrontCover1Radu Lupu CBE (30 November 1945 – 17 April 2022) was a Romanian pianist. He was widely recognized as one of the greatest pianists of his time.[3][4][5]

Born in Galați, Romania, Lupu began studying piano at the age of six. Two of his major piano teachers were Florica Musicescu, who also taught Dinu Lipatti, and Heinrich Neuhaus, who also taught Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels. From 1966 to 1969, he won three of the world’s most prestigious piano competitions: the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (1966), the George Enescu International Piano Competition (1967), and the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition (1969). These victories launched Lupu’s international career, and he appeared with all of the major orchestras and at all of the major festivals and music capitals of the world.

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From 1970 to 1993, Lupu made over 20 recordings for Decca Records. His solo recordings, which have received considerable acclaim, include works by Beethoven, Brahms, Grieg, Mozart, Schubert, and Schumann, including all of Beethoven’s piano concertos and five piano sonatas and other solo works; the Grieg and Schumann piano concertos, as well as three major solo works of Schumann; nine piano sonatas and the Impromptus and Moments musicaux of Schubert; various major solo works and the first piano concerto of Brahms; and two piano concertos of Mozart. His chamber music recordings for Decca include all of Mozart’s sonatas for violin and piano with Szymon Goldberg; the violin sonatas of Debussy and Franck with Kyung Wha Chung; and various works by Schubert for violin and piano with Goldberg.

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He additionally recorded works of Mozart and Schubert for piano four-hands and two pianos with Murray Perahia for CBS Masterworks, Schubert songs with Barbara Hendricks for EMI, and works by Schubert for piano four-hands with Daniel Barenboim for Teldec. In addition, Lupu is also noted for his performances of Bartók, Debussy, Enescu, and Janáček, among other composers.

Lupu was nominated for two Grammy Awards, winning one in 1996 for an album of two Schubert piano sonatas. In 1995, Lupu also won an Edison Award for a disc of three major piano works of Schumann. Other awards won by Lupu include the Franco Abbiati Prize in 1989 and 2006, and the 2006 Premio Internazionale Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli award. (wikipedia)

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Radu Lupu’s 1973 recital devoted to these popular “name” sonatas boasts gorgeous, roomy sonics that have not dated one iota. The performances, though full of absorbing and inspired pianism, are sometimes incongruous, stylistically speaking. The famous C-sharp minor sonata Adagio, for example, heaves, sighs, and swoons so that no dullard will miss its alleged “Moonlight” subtext. Mincing details soften the Allegretto’s woodwind-like atmosphere, while the finale erupts with violent accents and dynamic extremes. On the other hand, the grander-scaled Pathetique sonata is more conducive to Lupu’s theatrical conceits. Surprisingly, Lupu appoaches the Waldstein’s hurling brio with caution, yet turns in an inward, beautifully voiced Adagio that leads into a rather held-back finale–and do I hear some added octaves in the bass à la Backhaus? I also suspect that Lupu is cheating, playing the coda’s octaves with two hands, rather than as a glissando in one hand. Lupu might be way off base compared to more stylishly sound Beethovenians like Rudolf Serkin, Wilhelm Kempff, and Richard Goode. One thing’s for sure: Lupu’s performances are anything but faceless. (Jed Distler)

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Personnel:
Radu Lupu (piano)

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Tracklist:

Sonata In C Sharp Minor Op. 27 No. 2 ‘Moonlight’:
01. I: Adagio Sostenuto 7.05
02. II: Allegretto 2.35
03. III: Presto Agitato 7.48

Sonata In C Minor Op. 13 ‘Pathétique’:
04.
I: Grave – Allegro Molto E Con Brio 10.13
05. II: Adagio Cantabile 7.03
06. III: Rondo – Allegro 5.06

Sonata In C Major Op. 53 ‘Waldstein’:
07. I: Allegro Con Brio 10.58
08. II: Introduzione – Molto Adagio 4.35
09. III: Rondo; Allegretto Moderato – Prestissimo 10.34

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