The predominant impression gained when experiencing this set of performances by Buchbinder is that of affection. This is apparent in every note or phrase that is played, by his interaction with members of the orchestra and also in his whole stage manner which is immensely genial and likeable.
What about the musical detail? Buchbinder has made an incredibly thorough study of these concertos as he explains in the fascinating bonus documentary. This has led him to collect considerable numbers of editions of all of these works including the first editions in Beethoven's own hand. In doing this he has found numerous discrepancies between editions, even in first editions following on from Beethoven's original manuscripts.
Essentially these editorial discrepancies frequently delete many of Beethoven's instructions concerning phrasing, tempi changes and dynamics. Those instructions amount to subtleties of expression which imply more freedom than that allowed by a strict classical approach. Buchbinder maintains that by restoring these instructions, the player has to be more expressive than is often the case and is therefore nearer to Beethoven's original intentions.
In case this should concern the listener, it should be firmly stated that these changes, although important, do not radically change what would be expected. More importantly it should be noted that these performances, although more flexible and featuring a modern orchestra of fair size, still have bite as required. Energy is apparent throughout as well as a lightness of touch which underlines Beethoven's frequent enjoyment in rhythmic interplay.This is a truly excellent set of the concertos and the engrossing accompanying documentary makes everything that Buchbinder does absolutely clear and completely justified.
The recording maintains the excellence we have come to expect of C Major and provides crisply detailed imaging without being invasive plus excellent DTS surround sound.
This set could easily be considered by many as the leading contender in this field and is therefore worth every one of 5 stars. This is an outstanding issue in my opinion and should give considerable pleasure.