Michelangeli’s Performance Art and Playing Style
‘Art is not boredom,’ said Michelangeli.
If one wished to write an exhaustive appraisal of the interpretative art of this great pianist, one could fill entire volumes. Such a monumental work on Michelangeli’s pianism will no doubt come to fruition sooner or later. In the current study, I would like to outline its most essential features, and to cite the views of some of those who have written on the subject in accounts and reviews of Michelangeli’s concerts.
From my observations of his artistry at the public concerts I had the good fortune to attend, and during performances for small groups of people at his home, as well as on the basis of his recordings — both those made in the studio and at public recitals — it seems clear to me that Michelangeli’s interpretative art assumed constantly greater depth, while its fundamental elements remained unchanged. Even in recordings made more than fifty years ago, we notice that unique balance of all musical elements which makes him such a classic master of interpretation. The absolute, unearthly composure, dignity, and majesty of his playing have led to its being described as ‘Olympian’ and ‘Apollonian’. Writing about the Maestro in 1961, (18) I described his music as being the ‘embodying of an idea’. Michelangeli’s unique psychological and physical make-up, his brilliant musicality and intuition — the almost total identification with the music, his thorough musical knowledge, artistic maturity and sensitivity, and profuse musical imagination — all this combined with...
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