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This is well thought and the emphasis on the harmonic substratum is most important of all. I might disagree with the 'aristocratic nonchalance' -- that was an attribute of Liszt and not Rubinstein who remained a non-aristocrat all of his life. His approach was animalistic and the exertion and effort he displayed are amply, and frequently, described. But at the basis of all of Rubinstein's compositions is a firm sense of harmony. This was likely an important element in Rubinstein's powerful musicianship and which amply aided him when technical issues caused problems.

This CD is thoroughly professional in all respects -- and Grasso plays the Toccata Op 69 No 5 with great élan and vibrancy. I recommend it to all who are interested in the byways of Romantic music. Fabio Grasso is to be applauded for his robust dedication to Rubinstein's music.

Having said this, the recording also brings up certain serious issues to the performance of this music, as well as Romantic music in general. I fear that the one thing that Rubinstein possessed and which drove both his own interpretations of others' music plus performances of his own compositions was a boundless inner fire. Most reviews or recollections of Rubinstein describe an elemental force that frequently exceeded the limits of piano, pianist and listener.

But what does 'boundless inner fire' mean for the performer? What must they do?

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Copyright © 20 July 2003 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Canada


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