- Orchestra: Scottish Chamber Orchestra
- Conductor: Charles Mackerras
- Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
- Audio CD (4 May 2009)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: Hybrid SACD
- Label: Linn Records
- ASIN: B001W1SLTS
- Other Editions: MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,603 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Beethoven - Piano Concertos 3, 4 & 5 [Hybrid SACD] Hybrid SACD
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Mackerras and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra come to Beethoven's piano concertos trailing glory in their wake following a well-received symphony cycle in 2007 and last year's universally admired set of late Mozart symphonies.
Beethoven's last and pivotal piano concertos set their own strongly contrasted array of challenges for a musical partnership led by an 83-year-old conductor whose career began in the now long-distant era of 78s, and who is clearly relishing his Indian summer, and a soloist barely half his age whose own recordings of the Beethoven sonatas were praised for their ''re-creative energy and exuberance''.
Those qualities are also to the fore in these expansive but fleetly realised accounts of concertos that usher in the transition from ornamented classical daintiness to concentrated romantic drama.
Originally intended to include just the Third and Fourth Concertos, the addition of the Emperor was the happy result of Pizarro, Mackerras and his crack Scottish band powering through the original programme to leave time enough to capture the coupling. It's a mark of the journey they make, from the stormy, experimental sonorities of the Third to the majestic rhetoric of the Fifth via the tender lyricism of the Fourth that this turns out to be a remarkably coherent, hugely enjoyable offering rich in invention and altogether assured in execution.
These studio readings exult in the vital spontaneity and alert reciprocity more typical of a live performance. Pizarro's blend of perfectly proportioned poetry, dancing lyricism and muscular prowess calls to mind earlier performances by Kempff, Kovacevich and Gilels while bringing a fresh, questing dynamism all his own to bear. He negotiates the tempestuous currents of the Third with an almost insouciant nimbleness that serves the music's impetuous, truculent demeanour. In the Fourth, he is lullaby-tender and effusively lyrical yet manages to retain the darkly alluring gravity that underpins its nobility and poise.
Perhaps lacking just that last ounce of courage in the Fifth, Pizarro's reading is nonetheless lithe and lyrical, its outer movements solid and serious, the inner Adagio sweetly sung.
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra play as to the manor born, Mackerras multi-faceted and magnificent, the recorded sound up to Linn's usual high standards. --Michael Quinn
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window
The recorded sound is ideal. 4 Stars --BBC Music Magazine
This must be one of the very best, but we don't indulge in comparative reviews and stars. It evinces happy cooperation between all concerned, with our leading octogenarian conductor and a great pianist who has proved himself through winning the Leeds competition long ago, and by important Beethoven sonata recordings as well as much else - especially for us, Blackheath's fondly remembered pianoworks festivals 10 years ago. The great Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Linn names its every member in the liner notes), a fine Bluthner piano (which makes a huge difference) and a class technical team working in a perfect recording venue at Perth complete the recipe... This twofer offers musical and sonic pleasures to surpass most live concerto performance experiences, and for connoisseurs the interpretations are full of delightful details best enjoyed at home. I have been pleased to confirm that Pizarro's double disc is being sold two-for-one at top price, £13. That seems fair, and purchasers should not look for cheaper Beethoven concerto sets, of which there are doubtless plenty... --Musical Pointers
The Beethoven concertos positively sparkle in their chamber-sized guise. A strong contender in any benchmarking in the future. --George Pratt
Top Customer Reviews
Truth is, that just doesn't happen on this set. All three piano concertos are high contenders. Three, Four, and Five (The Emperor).
Part of the thriving must be chalked up to the super audio surround sound which brings all the players to live so warmly, yet so clearly. The venue is the Perth Hall, UK. A quick glance at the set booklet reveals that the venerable James Mallinson was producer. If any producer should be able to get it right, Mallinson is surely on the A&R short lists. So. All in all, this set is a musical demo - not necessarily a flash and cannons demo - of what super audio surround sound can do for Beethoven well played. Recommended sound.
Pizarro does not try to shrink down his basic tone in these readings; that would be a musical mistake. What he does, is take very alert pains to vary his touch and phrasing so that his playing comes across in keeping with the overall warmth-plus-clarity-in-Beethoven that we are getting full tilt from the band. The gaps, between hearing a chamber band do Beethoven vigorously and hearing a big-handed player do the piano, never really materialize.
What does materialize in abundance is heart, singing tone, and a punch to drive home the intellectual and musical story.Read more ›
These performances are an absolute game-changer. Once you've heard them then all the rest - including the ones you once loved - will just irritate you, and perhaps even make you angry - that anyone once thought they should sound like Bruckner 8 or Heldenleben. They're not Brahms or Rachmaninov? Why play them like it?
First, the orchestra is a chamber group, with 46 artists playing in each concerto. If you are accustomed to the 5th piano concerto played by a larger ensemble, so am I, and I can report truthfully that I sensed no lack of power or of full tone anywhere here. The conductor is the evergreen Sir Charles Mackerras, and as it is the orchestra that really sets the style, even in the 5th concerto, expect to hear orchestral introductions that are urbane rather than emphatic. I suppose that this is an issue mainly in no 3, where the first movement is directed to be played `allegro con brio'. I find myself hesitant to express a definite opinion about the way Mackerras handles this. Certainly I could imagine more brio, but thinking of other cases where Beethoven gives this instruction I don't seem to find it in the fieriest pieces. The first movement of the Eroica symphony and of the Waldstein sonata are `allegro con brio', for instance, whereas the far tenser first movements of the 5th symphony and the sonata Appassionata are not.
Pizarro's tone fits this approach like a glove, being rich in quality and not conveying any sense of deliberate restraint. Technically nothing bothers him, and that is more than one can say even today for many players in the rondo theme from no 5. Likewise his despatch of the fiendish sequences in that work's first movement where the left hand descends in chromatic scales in a cross-rhythm against the right hand is satisfyingly vigorous and uninhibited. It is not how Michelangeli or Serkin do it, but they are a different story.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I must admit , in my opinion , that although I don't believe it is quite as good a performance as some I have heard ( Kovacevich , Perahia as an example ) , it is probably in the... Read morePublished on 18 Dec. 2011 by theplanets
I bought this 2-disc CD after reading the reviews here. I must say I was disappointed. The recording quality does not do justice to the SACD medium. Read morePublished on 27 Sept. 2009 by YASAR
Chopinesque playing. but I particularly like the backing! There are more heroic versions around but few more musical.Published on 5 Aug. 2009 by richard