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Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos 1-4

Ludwig van Beethoven , George Szell , Cleveland Orchestra , Emil Gilels Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 24.95
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Frequently Bought Together

Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos 1-4 + Piano Concertos 3 & 4 + Piano Concerto No 5
Price For All Three: 37.19

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  • Piano Concertos 3 & 4 6.60
  • Piano Concerto No 5 5.64

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Product details

  • Performer: Emil Gilels
  • Orchestra: Cleveland Orchestra
  • Conductor: George Szell
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (7 Oct 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Double Forte
  • ASIN: B000002SER
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 382,671 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Disc 1:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Piano Concerto No.1 in C Op.15 (1996 Digital Remaster): I. Allegro con brioEmil Gilels/Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell14:27Album Only
Listen  2. Piano Concerto No.1 in C Op.15 (1996 Digital Remaster): II. LargoEmil Gilels/Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell12:29Album Only
Listen  3. Piano Concerto No.1 in C Op.15 (1996 Digital Remaster): III. Rondo (Allegro scherzando) [ Cadenzas by Beethoven]Emil Gilels/Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell 8:480.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat Op. 19 (1996 Digital Remaster): I. Allegro moderatoEmil Gilels/Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell14:17Album Only
Listen  5. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat Op. 19 (1996 Digital Remaster): II. AdagioEmil Gilels/Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell 9:020.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat Op. 19 (1996 Digital Remaster): III. Rondo (molto allegro)Emil Gilels/Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell 6:260.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 2:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Piano Concerto No.3 in C Minor Op.37 (1996 Digital Remaster): Allegro con brioEmil Gilels/Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell16:39Album Only
Listen  2. Piano Concerto No.3 in C Minor Op.37 (1996 Digital Remaster): LargoEmil Gilels/Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell10:25Album Only
Listen  3. Piano Concerto No.3 in C Minor Op.37 (1996 Digital Remaster): Rondo (Allegro - Presto)Emil Gilels/Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell 8:490.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 4 in G Op. 58 (1996 Digital Remaster): I. Allegro moderatoEmil Gilels/George Szell18:51Album Only
Listen  5. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 4 in G Op. 58 (1996 Digital Remaster): II. Andante con motoEmil Gilels/Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell 5:460.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 4 in G Op. 58 (1996 Digital Remaster): III. Rondo (Vivace)Emil Gilels/Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell 9:580.99  Buy MP3 

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A strong partnership 2 Mar 2014
Format:Audio CD
Having several established sets of the Beethoven concertos already and various single discs I wasn't really looking to start another cycle, but a chance buying of a companion disc at a knock down price made me look out the rest of this cycle. All of the performances in this cycle are a knock-out, superb fresh performances in superb fresh sound. Don't hesitate.
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Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This disc, very well recorded in 2005, offers clean, accurate and satisfying performances unhindered by idiosyncrasies which are period aware. The review in the Gramophone summed up Bronfman's playing with 'I don't think I've ever heard Bronfman play better.' Much the same could be said of the Zurich orchestra under Zinman, and also for the rest of the series available on separate discs.

The orchestral forces used by Zinman in this series features a reduced modern instrument orchestra with period features. They are timpani with hard sticks and 'natural' trumpets and horns without valves. These period brass are able to cut through textures with their narrow bores without dominating the rest of the orchestra. The same effect is achieved with hard sticks on timpani. This 'hybrid' orchestra has become an increasingly popular way of bridging the gap between modern and period orchestras.

Bronfman tailors his playing to suit, keeping textures light and sparkling and without superimposing emotionally heavy phrasing. This is not characterless playing as he employs subtle changes of touch. In this respect he is similar to Fleisher but within a more period-aware environment than the whole Cleveland orchestra that used by Szell. Bronfman is just as incisive as Kovacevich, for further example, but less aggressive in delivery.

This is a fine pairing therefore and at a very affordable price point. It joins other performances of note of which I would include complete sets by Kempff, Fleisher, Kovacevich and Paul Lewis. There are numerous other single discs to note which are far too many to list here. Bronfman is closest to Kempff in approach, especially his earlier mono set, and those who especially warm to Kempff will find it easy to identify with Bronfman.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Beethoven! 7 May 2000
By Mike Powers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
These are brilliant performances of Beethoven's first four piano concertos! Russian pianist Emil Gilels originally recorded all five Beethoven concertos with the Cleveland Orchestra and conductor George Szell in 1968 and 1970. Gilels plays the four concertos on this CD set with extraordinary poetic expressiveness, and the Cleveland Orchestra plays with the crisp precision always demanded by the legendary Szell. The remastered sound is absolutely outstanding. Awarded a three-star rating by the "Penguin Guide to Compact Discs," this two-CD set should not be missed my any fan of Beethoven's piano concertos.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! 17 Aug 2000
By Kalle Kuusava - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Gilels recorded Beethoven's concertos three times, and this set with Szell is simply the best. Recordings are made in the 60's, and Gilels was in his best "Beethoven-form" then. When he was younger, he preferred to super-virtuoso romantic pieces, but from 1950's he started to play Beethoven more and more. These interpretations are quite plastic, Gilels plays this like Viennesse-classical pieces should be played: everything is clear, but nothing is exaggrerated. And sound is so Gilels-like: Bright and metallic (in a positive meaning!!)! Szell proves an excellent accompanist with his superb Cleveland orchestra. A conductor who was especially famous for his interpretations of Viennese-classics. Gilels gives room to delightful solos by flute/oboe here and there - one gets a feeling that this is a chamber orchestra playing with piano in it! Not just orchestra against the piano. The tonal range is marvellous - all the different sections of the pieces can be easily understood. This double-CD contains concertos no 1-4, there is also another same-like double-CD from EMI, and that includes the fifth concerto plus Dvorak's 8th symphony and Slavonic dances!! That double-CD is also with Gilels/Szell. Unfortunately Amazon.com doesn't have it on their list, but it's easily found in classical cd stores. So, don't read this anymore, go and buy!!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars poetry in sound 16 Oct 2000
By C. W. Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I cannot eulogize enough about the great Emil Gilels. His lyrical pianism, his incredible technique and unimpeachable musicality, his rare blend of power, subtlety and finesse... Listening is believing! Truly, his marvelous playing evokes feelings and reaches parts of the soul that few other pianists can. Gilels once said that he will only play music that he personally liked. He must have loved the Beethoven piano concertos then, since he recorded them more than once. The different recordings are all superb and special, not mere clones of one another.
These ones from 1968 are splendid accounts. They are more "restrained" than his earlier interpretations, in the introspective and spiritually serene style of his playing which he developed in the latter half of his life. Conductor Szell is on the same wavelength as Gilels. The renowned Cleveland plays beautifully, and integrate perfectly with the pianist. Gilels's sound has that mellow charm, with that legendary tone quality and clarity, impeccable phrasing, and the sense of underlying controlled power and energy. And his tempo is just wonderful. Gilels sets off on the jaunty #1 C-major with rhythm and elegance, and the rendition of the following Largo is so profoundly expressive, so unbearably sublime! His accounts of the next three concertos are equally supreme stuff! It's a pity that the 5th concerto cannot be included here too, due to lack of disk space, but it's easily available, as are Gilels's other Beethoven piano concerto recordings with Kurt Sanderling or Leopold Ludwig, among others. Get your hands on them, for I am sure that anyone after listening to Gilel's performances will take a part of it in their heart forever, and what can be nicer than that?
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Early Beethoven Concertos Beautifully Played 3 July 2007
By Robin Friedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
David Zinman conducting the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and pianist Yefim Bronfman have recently collaborated on a recording of Beethoven's five piano concertos and the triple concerto on the budget-priced Arte Nova label. In this recording of the first and second concertos, Zinman, his orchestra, and Bronfman are an ideal match. Zinman has become known for his period performances of Beethoven using modern instruments. His set of Beethoven symphonies has been highly acclaimed. His recording of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis has received mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it greatly. The performance of these concertos is crisp, articulate, boisterous, and ambitious. It brings out the drive, humor,originality and roughness-around-the-edges of early Beethoven. Yefim Bronfman is a powerhouse pianist. But he plays these early concertos idiomatically, lightly, smoothly, and with great flair.

Of Beethoven's five concertos, the fourth and the fifth are mature middle-period works. The third concerto, in C minor, is something of a hybrid between Beethoven's early and middle styles while concertos 1 and 2 are works of the young Beethoven. Beethoven did not compose a late-period concerto, but these five works offer an excellent way of tracking Beethoven's development from his early years in Vienna to his period of maturity. More importantly, they contain unforgettable music.

Beethoven composed the first two concertos for his own performance as a rising young composer in Vienna in his early to mid 20's. The earliest of his concertos is concerto no. 2 in B-flat major, opus 19. This work probably was written in some form before Beethoven moved to Vienna from Bonn at the age of 22. He revised and reworked it many times for his own use before publishing it at last in 1801. Beethoven described the work to his publisher as "A concerto for pianoforte, which, it is true, I do not make out to be one of my best. At the same time it would not disgrace you to engrave this concerto." The second remains the least-familiar of Beethoven's concertos.

Particularly in its opening movement, the work has a bumptious, patchwork quality, probably due to Beethoven's many revisions of the score as well as to his youth. But the work has lovely movements, particularly in its lyrical second theme and in the delicate runs and movement of the piano part. The highlight of the work is the Adagio, a flowing and serious slow movement which builds dramatic tension in long solo passages for the piano towards the end. The finale of the second concerto is a boisterous rondo with a short, catchy and humorously syncopated theme. If Beethoven was correct in regarding the concerto as "not one of my best" he was also right that the work did not put him or his publisher to shame. The work, which owes a great deal to Mozart and Haydn, well rewards hearing.

The piano concerto no. 1 in C major, opus 15 was composed in 1795 also primarily as a performance vehicle for Beethoven. This work is much more cohesive than the B-flat major concerto and was also published in 1801, several months after its companion. The opus 15 is a festive, high-spirited work, replete with tympani and trumpet as befitting an orchestral piece in C major. The opening movement features a range of themes, but it focuses on a march-like military phrase introduced at the outset by the orchestra and on a solo martial theme given to the piano. The piano part is full of filigree, long runs, trills and singing themes. Beethoven wrote a famously difficult cadenza for this early work. The largo, opens with a lyrical, reflective theme in the piano which is clung to and developed over the course of an extended movement, culminating in another floridly elaborate piano solo towards the end. The final rondo, which Beethoven is said to have composed in two days, is lively and rhythmical with some strongly accentuated dance themes as it proceeds. In this concerto, Beethoven comes into his own voice as a young composer while still building of the work of his great predecessors.

Zinman and Bronfman offer a thoroughly enjoyable and idiomatic performance of early Beethoven. This is a lovely disc and at its low price offers an excellent way to get to know and love this music.

Robin Friedman
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent in every way 1 Sep 2005
By J. Buxton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Although it is a pity EMI chose to put Gilels excellent Emperor concerto on a separate issue (with Dvorak's 8th), thank goodness we have this set of Beethoven's concertos 1-4. I disagree with the reviewer that mentions the poor sound quality. I found the sound to be much more than acceptable. It was recorded in a "dry" acoustic, which the listener may not prefer, but certainly one can hear all the detail, passagework, and subtleties one could hope for, and expects with Gilels. Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra are outstanding as well. Gilels shows why he was among the finest, if not THE finest, interpreter of the Beethoven concertos in the 20th century. I find this set (including the 5th) to be the most consistently satisfying set I own and I include many other well respected sets in that assessment (Brendel/Rattle, Ashkenazy, Zimmerman/Bernstein, Rubinstein/Leinsdorf). I recommend it highly.
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