Radu Lupu Live, Volumes 3 and 4

Radu Lupu Live Volume 3
4 of 5 stars

Volume 3

Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K488
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Rudolf Kempe
London, March 6, 1974

Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K467
English Chamber Orchestra
Uri Segal
London, March 25, 1974

Choral Fantasy, Op.80
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus
Lawrence Foster
London, September 2, 1971

Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 1
Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27 No. 2
Scherzo No. 1 in B minor, Op. 20
Leeds International Piano Competition, April 19, 1970

Intermezzo in B flat minor, Op.117 No.2
Intermezzo in A minor, Op.118, No.1
Intermezzo in A major, Op.118, No.2
Intermezzo in E flat minor, Op.118, No.6
London, March 5, 1973

Piano Quintet in G minor, Op.57
Gabrieli Quartet
London, March 5, 1974

London, December 9, 1974
Doremi: 2 CDs and stream

Volume 4

Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K414
Cleveland Orchestra
Antal Dorati
Severance Hall, Cleveland, April 7, 1977

Violin Sonata in E minor, K.304
Szymon Goldberg
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, January 13, 1974

Piano Sonata
25th Aldeburgh Festival, Maltings Concert Hall, June 18, 1972

Out of Doors, Sz. 81, BB89

Piano Pieces, Op.118 (complete)

Piano Sonata No.21 in B flat major, D.960

Intermezzo in E flat major, Op.117 No.1
Intermezzo in B flat minor, Op.117 No.2
Hunter College, New York, February 16, 1974

Radu Lupu

Reviewed by: Rob Pennock

Reviewed: April 2024
CD No: Doremi: 2 CDs and stream - Volume 3: DHR-82178; Volume 4: DHR8221/2
Duration: Volume 3: 148 minutes; Volume 4: 151 minutes



As with the first two volumes of this series, these CDs mainly capture the celebrated Romanian pianist in his early years.  

Lupu’s Mozart is urban, elegant and rhythmically sprung with occasional ritenuti and pedal use and thankfully the slow movements are given time to breathe. The accompaniments are variable. Kempe’s woodwind are provincial, the horns virtually inaudible. Segal’s brass are too polite, the drum sticks too soft. The Cleveland strings are superb, but until the finale the wind are somewhere in the background. In Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia Lupu and Foster lack the humour, surging power and rhythmic élan of Serkin, Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic (Sony). The sound is variable, but never less than acceptable.

With the chamber works, shortly after the Mozart performance the artists recorded all of the Violin Sonatas for Decca and there is a real sense of conversation between them; although, as recorded, Goldberg’s tone is slightly edgy and his intonation very occasionally falters. The Shostakovich is let down by the Gabrieli’s emotionally detached, overly smooth playing and a lack of tension. 

Moving to the solo recitals, taken by composer. Volume 2 of this Doremi’s series featured a 1971 Aldeburgh Festival performance of Bartók’s Out of Doors (https://www.classicalsource.com/cd/radu-lupu-live-volume-2/) where the Barcarolle and The Night’s Music are slower, the opening Pesante faster than in New York. Both work, but the sound throughout the New York recital is very clangy.  

In the London Brahms Op.118 Intermezzi, he is slower and more contemplative than in his studio recordings and New York, but the latter complete set still features the hallmarks of all his playing; completely natural tempo, dynamic and tonal variation, beautiful phrasing and the ability to make everything sound improvised. However, his Decca version of Op.117 No.1, which is a minute slower, remains arguably the finest on record.

The Chopin Nocturnes are exquisitely poised, the Scherzo an improvisatory sounding tour-de-force, while the sounds Lupu creates in the Copland Sonata (a scandalously under-performed masterwork) are massively sonorous and he finds a rare sense of introspective, nocturnal beauty in the Andante sostenuto. 

Again Volume 1 contains a 1971 Aldeburgh Schubert D.960, which is slower in the first two movements, but Lupu’s impetuosity in New York is compelling and the Andante remains exceptionally beautiful, even if the earlier version is more profound and Shchedrin’s Humoresque is delightfully witty.    

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