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Piano Concertos 1-5 Complete [Box set]

Ludwig Van Beethoven Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 24.53 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Disc: 1
1. Piano Concerto No. 1 In C Major, Op. 15: I. Allegro con brio
2. Piano Concerto No. 1 In C Major, Op. 15: II. Largo
3. Piano Concerto No. 1 In C Major, Op. 15: III. Rondo: Allegro
4. Six Bagatelles, Op. 126: I. Andante Con Moto, Cantabile E Compiacevole
5. Six Bagatelles, Op. 126: II. Allegro
6. Six Bagatelles, Op. 126: III. Andante, Cantabile E Grazioso
See all 10 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Piano Concerto No. 3 In C Minor, Op. 37: I. Allegro con brio
2. Piano Concerto No. 3 In C Minor, Op. 37: II. Largo
3. Piano Concerto No. 3 In C Minor, Op. 37: III. Rondo: Allegro
4. Piano Concerto No. 4 In G Major, Op. 58: I. Allegro moderato
5. Piano Concerto No. 4 In G Major, Op. 58: II. Andante con moto
6. Piano Concerto No. 4 In G Major, Op. 58: III. Rondo: Vivace
Disc: 3
1. Piano Concerto No. 5 In E Flat Major, Op. 73: I. Allegro
2. Piano Concerto No. 5 In E Flat Major, Op. 73: II. Adagio un poco mosso
3. Piano Concerto No. 5 In E Flat Major, Op. 73: III. Rondo: Allegro
4. Piano Concerto No. 2 In B Flat Major, Op. 19: I. Allegro con brio
5. II. Adagio: 2. Adagio
6. Piano Concerto No. 2 In B Flat Major, Op. 19: III. Rondo: Molto allegro

Product Description

Amazon.ca

Each of these performances has its own profile. The orchestra plays incisively in the First Concerto, but Ashkenazy's plush lyricism doesn't make a good match either with the orchestra or with the music, and he makes one weird ritard in the first movement. The Second Concerto is uneventful, rather bland and pleasant. The Third Concerto seems to be the best performance of the lot, with dramatic playing by soloist and orchestra, but it's sabotaged by blurry recorded sound, the only serious problem with sound quality in the entire set. The Fourth Concerto is enlivened, at least intellectually, by Solti's approach, constantly revealing interesting unfamiliar details in the orchestral score. Ashkenazy's detachment makes this a frosty but fascinating experience. The "Emperor" is a good routine performance, nothing special. The Bagatelles aren't much of a bonus, since they're rather dully played. (Why not the "Choral" Fantasy?) There's nothing actively bad about this set, and it's reasonably priced. But Beethoven deserves better, and gets it from many performers, including the fascinating Uchida-Sanderling collaborations. --Leslie Gerber

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done. June 23 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Ashkenazy did impress me with a fine performance of the concertos. I cannot say much about the organization of the CDs - Concerto 5 before Concerto 2 - but all in all a good set.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent set, great value July 11 2012
Format:Audio CD
The sound is just fine to me--typical Decca sound of the period, with a nice bloom on the strings, and just enough resonance. I find the combination of Solti's energy and Ashkenazy's poety to be very effective. These concerti are best when conductor and soloist have distinct artistic visions that can work in harmony. Concertos 3 and 5 are highlights. And the price is superb. At a comparable price, Fleischer/Szell is very good, but with typical constricted Sony/Cleveland sound. Gilels/Szell is artistically superior. There is no shortage of other excellent sets: some others of my favourites include Kempff/Leitner, Perahia/Haitink (sometimes just a bit dull), Kovacevich/Davis, Arrau/Davis (perhaps my favourite), Barenboim/Klemperer. Of course, add individual recordings and the choice expands geometrically.
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3.0 out of 5 stars What is Ashkenazy up to? May 15 2004
Format:Audio CD
After purchasing Ashkenazy's complete set of the Mozart concertos, I decided to get this one of the Beethoven concertos. Although some of the reviewers had voiced complaints about this set, I felt that it couldn't be that bad. Indeed, it's not that bad, but its not that good either.
To me, it seems as if Ashkenazy has no sense of style. His approaches to these concertos are more lyrical and romantic rather than classical. Take the first, for example. Ashkenazy treats the piano line as if he were playing Chopin. Solti, on the other hand, seems to feel that louder is better. Thus we have a very bizarre dialogue between piano and orchestra in the C major concerto. The second isn't much better. Although Ashkenazy gives a much better reading, Solti again feels that the CSO must play as forcefully as possible. The concerto is rather bland in the first place and Ashkenazy's approach is nothing special. The third concerto is wonderfully played by both Ashkenazy and the CSO. Ashkenazy treatment of the piano line is more classical while Solti's boisterous approach actually works in this powerful work. However, poor recording conditions (the evident hiss in the background) ruin the largo. The G major concerto is the most interesting in the set. Solti's treatment of the orchestra accompaniment is quite inspired - this is Solti at his most tender. However, Ashkenazy's icy interpretation is detached, it seems as if he and Solti are on two entirely different pages. Although the recording is remarkable in its beauty, Ashkenazy's lack of warmth leaves a chilling cloud over the performance. The fifth is nothing special. Solti is back to being loud and Ashkenazy gives a good, routine performance.
All in all, even at a budget price, this set is not highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, but not perfect Feb. 15 2004
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
This is a good set of the piano concertos. However, the main problem is in the Fifth (Emperor): the second movement is extremely slow and faltering. This is one of the most beautiful pieces ever composed and the second movement MUST be perfect, as the version of Perahia: astonishing sensible, rhythmic.
Having problems in the Fifth is almost unforgivable in a concert like this, and is the main reason to give only 3 stars instead of 5.
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1.0 out of 5 stars OK performances, TERRIBLE sound Jan. 20 2004
By W. Hill
Format:Audio CD
Having enjoyed Ashkenazy's recordings of the Beethoven piano sonatas, I decided to give this set a try. Ashkenazy's playing is excellent as always, and Solti provides good if not spectacular accompanyment, but all involved are betrayed by the atrocious remastering of these recordings, particularly on the third concerto. Hard as it may be to believe, I have several recordings of these works from the 1940s & 50s that sound better than this. I agree with the previous reviewer who said that it sounded like it had been mixed in a restroom. Or perhaps an airplane hanger. Absolutely awful for such a recent (mid-1970's) recording. Some of the other reviewers here who praise the sound leave me feeling very confused -- perhaps there are some defective pressings of these CDs in circulation? Have they recently remastered this set without updating the packaging? (my set says it was released in 1995).
For those on a budget, I would recommend Szell / Fleisher, or the recent bargain re-release of the Brendel / Levine set instead. At about the same price (or even slightly cheaper), they are both much better sets all around.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, not perfect Feb. 22 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
This is a good set of the piano concertos. However, the main problem is in the Fifth (Emperor): the second movement is extremely slow and faltering. This is one of the most beautiful pieces ever composed and the second movement MUST be perfect, as the version of Perahia: astonishing sensible, rhythmic.
Having problems in the Fifth is almost unforgivable in a concert like this, and is the main reason to give only 3 stars instead of 5.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Hard to do worse Dec 5 2002
Format:Audio CD
This is one of the worst collaborations out there, and I can't recommend it even at a bargain price. Ashkenazy and the CSO never seem to be on the same page, except in the 4th Concerto, and personally, there I don't like the cold, graceless page they're on. The first two concerti don't come off to my ears, with orchestra and soloist never really listening to each other and sounding too blustery for this music. (It's hard to find a good performance of the rather bad Second Concerto in any case.) The Third is praised by some, and I guess it has merit or at least character, but personally I find it overblown and even more outsized, though there are some moments when the sheer force of the CSO thrills. The tubby sound doesn't help matters in the "bluster" department, however. (The sound throughout the set isn't great, but in the Third Concerto it sounds like they remastered the tape in a restroom.) The Emperor can't hold a candle to dozens of other recordings out there in this hyper-competitive field. Folks who are certain these are "the greatest recordings ever" should first listen to Michelangeli/Celibidache, Schnabel/Stock, Arrau/Galliera or Fischer/Furtwangler and you'll hear what I mean. There are so many magnificent recordings of the Emperor that anything less so should be avoided. Ashkenazy's Bagatelles are ordinary...two words: Sviatoslav Richter, on Praga. (Okay, that's four words.)
Even at a bargain price, this set really isn't worth it, especially when so many sets are being remastered and reissued at bargain-basement prices. I've never understood Solti's reputation, other than as a pedantic. For all his incessant talk about divining meaning from the score and plumbing the depths, I rarely find a lot of insight in his interpretations. Often he and the CSO were just full and loud, at least on record (I never got to hear them live), and that's mostly the result here. Not recommended.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Piano Concertos 1-5
I've always loved Beethoven's music, but when I heard the piano concertos, especially #5, I was blown away. It is far and away my favourite piece of music.
Published on June 2 2011 by Pierre Alexander Emond
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsurpassed after a quarter century
This recording is not only the best set of the Beethoven Piano Concertos I know of, but also represents the peak performances in the history of Georg Solti and the Chicago... Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2001 by Stan Vernooy
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Ashkenazy and the Chicago Symphony!
If you're a fan of Vladimir Ashkenazy, you'll probably enjoy this set. He has recorded Beethoven's five piano concertos three times. Read more
Published on June 5 2001 by Fan of Fred Williamson
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashkenazy and Solti at their best
I agree with those who've given this set of Beethoven piano concerti high praise. Rarely have I've heard Ashkenazy play with such warmth and enthusiasm and Solti and the Chicago... Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2001 by John Kwok
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashkenazy and Solti Make Magic!
These are wonderful performances of Beethoven's piano concertos. Based on the positive reviews and the high sales rank, a lot of people agree that there is not much wrong with this... Read more
Published on Feb. 21 2001 by R.D. Monsoon
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, Sensational, Breathtaking..
WIth several versions of Beethoven concertos out there, one might find it difficult to find the best one. Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2001 by "yoopa"
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