Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli plays Mozart Piano Concertos

I always get excited when I hear young pianists of today, who “carry the torch” of music into the future. Still, there are artists of the past whose magic remains a treasure for all to enjoy. One of these pianists was Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920–1995) was born in Brescia, Italy. He began music lessons at the age of three and at ten he entered the Milan Conservatory. In 1939, he won first prize in the Geneva International Piano Competition, where he was acclaimed as ‘a new Liszt’ by pianist Alfred Cortot, a member of the judging panel.

On this CD we get to hear him play the following:


  • Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K466
  • Piano Concerto No. 15 in B flat major, K450

Performed by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (piano), with the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR, conducted by Antoine de Bavier

Mr. Michelangeli’s repertoire was strikingly small for a concert pianist of such stature, concentrating only on specific works. Owing to this obsessive perfectionism, relatively few recordings were officially released during Michelangeli’s lifetime. Debussy and Ravel as well as Chopin, Schumann, Liszt and Beethoven featured in his limited concert schedule. His recordings of Ravel and Debussy were considered essential for any collection.

Michelangeli was a connoisseur of the mechanics of the piano and he insisted that his concert instruments be in perfect condition. Whenever possible he took his own Steinway piano with him on tour. His last concert (all Debussy) took place on 7 May 1993 in Hamburg, Germany.

Any recording featuring Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli is an important event because he recorded very little in the studio, leaving the field open for many unauthorized versions to be released on the market. This authorized live SWR recording from the Ludwigsburg Festival in 1956 shows a Mozart style far removed from that presented today. These are full-blooded interpretations and show Michelangeli with a very strong forward drive, well supported by Antoine de Bavier, a pupil of Furtwängler.

The recording made by SWR is of excellent quality, showcasing Michelangeli’s superb playing. These two concertos (Michelangeli only played around five Mozart concertos) were performed throughout Michelangeli’s career, but the recording here was made when he was thirty-six years old and at the peak of his powers.

Here is Michelangeli playing Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in C major, second movement:

And next, here is Mazurka, Op. 33, number 4 by Chopin:

Finally, here is a section of a documentary about the pianist:

Tags: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, pianist, Debussy, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *