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Rubinstein: Beethoven – Sonatas (SACD, ISO)

Rubinstein: Beethoven - Sonatas (SACD, ISO)
Rubinstein: Beethoven – Sonatas (SACD, ISO)

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Arthur Rubinstein
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1 SACD
Format: ISO (image)
Label: RCA Living Stereo
Size: 3.04 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor (“Moonlight”), Op. 27/2
01. Adagio sostenuto
02. Allegretto
03. Presto agitato

Piano Sonata No. 26 in E flat major (“Les Adieux”), Op. 81a
04. Adagio; Allegro
05. Andante espressivo
06. Vivacissimamente

Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor (“Pathétique”), Op. 13
07. Allegro di molto e con brio
08. Adagio cantabile
09. Rondo: Allegro

Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor (“Appassionata”), Op. 57
10. Allegro assai
11. Andante con moto
12. Allegro ma non troppo

Make Beethoven/Rubinstein/Steinway grand piano great again.

This title sounds as a silly political statement. But actually I am talking about this SACD sound quality.

I have two CD of this Rubinstein’s performance of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. One is the earliest RCA version, and the other is the vol 56 of the Rubinstein collection which has a better sound quality. Rubinstein’s performance is so remarkable and outstanding, with love, passion, and powerful strength. However, they both suffer the typical CD character of low sampling rates that results in a digital sound which lacks sweetness and warmth. About ten years ago l bought the first SACD (around $ 15) from the classic section of a bookstore to see any improvement of sound quality. I feel the resolution is just a little bit better, but it is still lacking the sweetness and charming. And it doesn’t demonstrate the powerful bass chords resonance that makes the Steinway grant piano great. It makes me even wonder why Rubinstein should have to stick with Steinway piano, instead of, say, Bosendorfer Imperial. I put this SACD aside for many years, and feel disappointed.

Recently I read several reviews about this SACD. Some give it very good ratings, but quite a few gives a bad review, as extremely hiss, bleeding of sound, and not sounding as Steinway grand piano. It makes me very wondering, and I took it out and listened it again and again. It is not too bad (no noticeable hiss on my SACD) but, one reviewer is right, that the recorded sound doesn’t sound as from a great Steinway grand piano. I also noticed another interesting thing that the price range of this SACD can vary from $2 to $50 something, for new as well as used SACD. From my experience, I know that the sound quality of CD/SACD is better from Japan, UK, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (and of course the higher price wise); not generally from US. Few weeks ago, I saw a used one on this site which asked for only $1.83, and it is from Germany. I told myself why not try. I received it in less than two weeks, and it is well packed and as a new one. I played it. WOW. Wonderful. The bass is strong, the middle range and higher registers give the beautiful singing song. For example, the beginning few measures of the second movement of the Pathetique just singing so elegantly and beautifully, and the bass chords are fully supported. Then you know, yes, this what Beethoven’s piano sonatas supposed to be. Yes, this is what Rubinstein performance supposed to be. And, of course, this is what the great Steinway should sound. A better quality SACD will truthfully reproduce these historical recordings. It not only makes Beethoven/Rubinstein/Steinway grand piano great again, but also make our human beings great again.

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