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Pno Ctos/Fantasie In C Maj

J/Various-London Symp Katchen Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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The Third Volume of "The Art of Julius Katchen" Edition.

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5.0 out of 5 stars An Addendum April 24 2004
Format:Audio CD
The risk you run when buying import classical CDs is that they will eventually get released domestically at a much lower price. Well, such is the case here for yours truly. My review below is still accurate in terms of musical content, so instead of editing it (and losing my helpful votes) just note that this title is no longer an Australian import. Enjoy the savings!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Brahms Aug. 15 2003
By Michael B. Richman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Julius Katchen was one of the world's best Brahms interpreters. His 6-CD boxed set of the Complete Works for Solo Piano on London/Decca is without peer. And when it came to the Concertos, the results were equally magical. This 2-CD Double Decca Import title is Volume 3 of the Art of Julius Katchen series. The Brahms First on CD 1, with Pierre Monteux and the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Brahms Second on CD 2, with Janos Ferencsik conducting the same orchestra, are brilliant performances made during the golden age of stereo. Each disc is rounded out by a Schumann piano work -- the Piano Concerto with Istvan Kertesz and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra on the first, and the Fantasie, Op. 17 on the second. Many of Katchen's vintage performances have been available sporadically stateside, but these Australian imports are the best way to get all of his glorious Concerto recordings.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Addendum April 24 2004
By Michael B. Richman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The risk you run when buying import classical CDs is that they will eventually get released domestically at a much lower price. Well, such is the case here for yours truly. My review below is still accurate in terms of musical content, so instead of editing it (and losing my helpful votes) just note that this title is no longer an Australian import. Enjoy the savings!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Pianism May 1 2008
By Ryan Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I was introduced to Katchen through his Brahms set, which was, and remains the best overall set and value if you want the piano works complete. Katchen, for those who dont know, died tragically young, yet still left behind quite a recorded legacy-which brings us to this second of eight volumes[16 cd's] of mostly excellent interpretations and virtuosity.
To start with, these brahms concerto's are excellent. I do, however, prefer Gilels, or Freire, or Arrau. But these are not bad by any means, it just happens that they are not the best. The Schumann, Katchen's schumann is full bodied and hot-blooded[his Carnaval on Volume 8] is stunning, as is this Fant op 17. The schumann is one of my favourite concerto's[ironically after the brahms] and this version is very good, though again, not the overall best. I would strongly recommend this to those who want all three for a reasonable price and these are musts for those who are fans of this tragic artist.
As a pianist, I admire his ability to handle even the most hectic rep with clarity and ability to manhandle even the most demonic challenges. He is also, as his Brahms set reveals, a very beautiful player when need be with a lyrical and a tone that is never overly sentimental. It is a shame that his career and life were cut so short-he would have been one of the best.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive readings all around, but Katchen tends to be prosaic in a big, big way April 22 2007
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I was primarily interested here in the two Brahms concertos, given Katchen's fame as a Brahms player. The English had a special liking for Katchen, and Decca has kept many of his recordings in the catalog, on and off again, for forty years. I should show my hand in advance: I have never been a particular fan and don't collect Katchen's performances. In this case I found, as I usually do, a big technique combined with a rather settled temperament and no great insight into either work. To take the Concerto #2 since it was of the most interest to me, Katchen resembles Emanuel Ax in his straightforward reading; te tone is big, as is the approach. But to me this huge, heroic work demands the kind of passionate attack one hears from Richter, Pollini, Serkin, and Fleisher, and when an interpretation becomes transcendent, there's a great conductor in total synch with the soloist, as with Barenboim and Barbirolli. Katchen was unfortunate to be paired with the pedestrian Ferencsik, who takes no special interest in the proceedings.

In Concerto #1 the conductor is the much better Pierre Monteux with the LSO, and one immediately hears the difference in the gripping introduction that Monteux evokes, memorable for having so much power and musicalaity without becoming ponderous, always a temptation in this overweening work. The young Brahms was trying desperately to sound great, but since in reality he was great, there's no need for conductors to belabor the point. Monteux doesn't, and I would rank his melifluous orchestral work with Szell's for Curzon and Fleisher or Barbirolli's for Barenboim. As in the Second Concerto, Katchen is a bit prosaic and straightforward, but he cathces fire more often, and his massive technique is well suited to compete with the thick, churning orchestral activity around him. One woul never mistake Katchen for Curzon, Serkin, Fleisher, Pollini, or other masters, but he acquits himself well, especially in the rousing finale. At 57 min., the reading is only a minute slower than the swift Fleisher-Szell.

the main filler in this import twofer (now the only one in print of these works from Katchen) is the Schumann concerto with Kertesz and the Israel Phil. Their performance is fairly startling by the way it charges ahead, avoiding any temptation to sound overly poetic or fussy. Is this because Katchen had no particular feeling for the work or becasue this is what he wanted to say? I can't quite tell. I liked the fact that this reading has no mannerisms whatever, and Katchen's big technique allows him to make some noble sounds. If such an approach appeals to you, this swift reading will be right for you; I just wonder if Katchen-Kertesz aren't railroading Schumann a bit.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Go-To Brahms and Schumann July 2 2010
By foosayer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This 2-disc set contains three of my go-to performances involving my favorite Brahms interpreter, Julius Katchen.

Though his specialty may be smaller works for solo piano, Katchen has a big technique in his arsenal that permits him to bang with the best, a prerequisite for success with Brahms' First. The Katchen/Monteux Brahms remains my favorite version. Monteux's reading and the recording are full-blown and up close, appropriate for the young Brahms. I have a couple of issues. A firmer rein on the orchestra might have provided more suitable accompaniment for Katchen's delicate introspection in some passages. The mix apparently couldn't fix the problem. Also, the sound quality in this recording is slightly muddy, heavy and indistinct in the bass. But the beauty of Katchen's playing, the richness of the London strings, and Monteux's energy make up for much.

In the Brahms' Second, London provides the close-up listening experience that I prefer. Ferencsik provides a large range of expression. The energetic passages are singing and jaunty, the slower passages quite restrained. The understatement of the orchestra in the inner movements took a little getting used to. Katchen is providing most of the appassionata at the opening of the Allegro, and Heath's cello in the Andante, while sweetly played, seems too classically inspired. But I have come to appreciate this viewpoint, and it is in the Andante where Katchen provides the big payoff for me in this recording. The finale is satisfyingly energetic and completes an overall enjoyable experience. The recorded sound, despite an audible rumble, is good enough not to mar enjoyment. The piano is forward enough that the listener doesn't have to strain to hear it.

The Schumann Concerto is a highly listenable bonus. It combines two of the foremost Brahms interpreters of the mid-century to have a go at a work by Brahms' mentor. It is well recorded, well played, and absorbing in its spirited approach. The Israel Phil. plays especially sweetly in the second movement. The Rondo Finale always puts a smile on my face. The remaining piece here, the mono Schumann Fantasia, covers a missing item in my library and is appreciated on this basis.
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