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Piano Concertos 1-5 Complete Box set


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Aug. 16 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: London
  • ASIN: B0000041K9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #37,085 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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

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

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

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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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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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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Format: Audio CD
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 Symphony. For some reason, after the mid-70s, Solti increasingly emphasized power at the expense of musicality, and the sound of the orchestra became more strident and astringent.
But these performances, having all the power and excitement of the later Chicago Symphony recordings, also have warmth, love, and sweetness. Ashkenazy too was at his peak in these recordings. His later cycle, in Cleveland, lacks the bite and depth of involvement that you can find here.
If you want a capsule summary of the performance philosophy of these performances, it is easy to describe: they are unapologetically romantic. In my opinion, the Third and Fourth concertos are particularly fine. Both Ashkenazy and Solti find exactly the right combination of power and beauty in both works, and the quality of the performances is further emphasized by the gorgeous sound.
And speaking of sound, those who believe that a recording has to be DDD in order to have state-of-the-art sound need to listen to these recordings. The subsequent digital recordings of these works that I have heard are all comparatively cold and clinical.
I consider it unfortunate that in the last 25 years music has been more of an intellectual or historical exercise than an emotional experience or an appreciation of beauty. But back in the 70s when this was recorded, Solti and Ashkenazy had not been infected by those negative trends.
Looking at the individual concertos, I have a slight preference for Richter's recording of the First and the Serkin/Bernstein recording of the "Emperor" (Fifth). But if you want a complete set of outstanding performances of all five Beethoven concertos, I don't think there is another set that comes close to these.
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