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Concertos for Piano & Orchestra/Schiff

Zoltan Kocsis Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £37.28 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Performer: Andras Schiff
  • Conductor: Ivan Fischer
  • Composer: Bela Bartok
  • Audio CD (10 Feb 1997)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Teldec
  • ASIN: B000000S91
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 369,463 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Piano Concerto No.1, Sz 83: Allegro moderato - Allegro
2. Piano Concerto No.1, Sz 83: Andante
3. Piano Concerto No.1, Sz 83: Allegro - Allegro molto
4. Piano Concerto No.2, Sz 95: Allegro
5. Piano Concerto No.2, Sz 95: Adagio - Presto - Adagio
6. Piano Concerto No.2, Sz 95: Allegro molto
7. Piano Concerto No.3, Sz 119: Allegretto
8. Piano Concerto No.3, Sz 119: Adagio religioso
9. Piano Concerto No.3, Sz 119: (Allegro vivace)

Product Description


Following in the tradition of Liszt, as well as contemporaries such as Prokofiev and Rachmaninov, Bartòk stressed the centrality of the individual performer in his piano concertos. The single most important innovation Bartòk brought to the genre was his use of percussion as a main partner to the soloist. This becomes quickly evident in Nos. 1 and 2, which both feature considerable interaction between Andràs Schiff (nimble and robust throughout) and the percussion section. Not forgotten is conductor Ivan Fischer, who ably negotiates the Budapest Festival Orchestra through the composer's endless series of performance notations. Bartòk's quotations and Stravinsky-esque ostinatos are articulated to perfection in No. 1, which also features a magical "Andante". On the other hand, the highlight of No. 2 is the second movement, an ethereal chorale that separates conversations between Schiff and solo timpani. The most "classical" of the concertos is No. 3, written while Bartòk was in exile in the United States in 1945. Living under deplorable conditions, Bartòk died shortly after its completion. The nocturnal transfiguration of the "Adagio religioso", with its complex, advanced harmonies and tightly woven textures, is particularly affecting (and prophetic) in view of the composer's untimely passing. Dramatic and gripping, these are approachable masterpieces that advanced the genre in a way no one achieved before or since. Highly recommended. --Kevin Mulhall

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very musical 4 Mar 2011
By enthusiast TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
As you might expect from Schiff these are very musical accounts. I suppose some might find the First concerto a little tame but it is certainly very effective in a sparse and often beautiful way. The Second concerto is far from tame, indeed it is a bit of a barnstormer. In Schiff's hands Bartok's concertos are sprightly, characterful, sparkling and not a little refined. And they are often very beautiful. With Fischer in charge of the orchestra you are assured of plenty of additional colour. You should hear these.

How do they compare with others? Well, the Boulez disc with three different pianists is remarkable successful: it is really something special. Zimmerman gives astonishing focus to the First and Grimaud finds beautiful depths in the Third. And, of course, Geza Anda's set was always uncommonly fine. Schiff does not, perhaps, replace these. But his accounts are still excellent versons that I find myself returning to often. We are rather blessed with wonderful versions of this wonderful music.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally he reveals his true ability 1 Dec 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Always his recordings do not sound as good as his live performances. Before I went to his recital, I thought that he was just one of the boring pianists just judging by his rather-detached performances of Bach on Decca label. So I was truly astonished by his tone richness when I had an opportunity to go to his concert. At that time he played works for 2 pianos with Peter Serkin (in Minneapolis). Sorry for Serkin, a son of the great pianist in 20th century, but Schiff's sounds was always sticking out and truly dominated that performance. In this anticipated Bartok's concertos, recordings finally caught his true ability with piano. His hands never make too much harsh sounds as can be heard in most of Bartok's performances. I am amazed that Bartok's concertos can sound like this, exquisite, elegant, refined, and colorful. If you are tired of too much aggressive performances of Bartok, then you must listen to this CD. Strongly recommended.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good one, but not The One 24 May 2001
By "fotografus" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Schiff is an excellent pianist. Emotional and incredibly musical with a perfect technique. Nevertheless, this is not his finest recording. In my reading, Bartok's piano concertos are much harder, much more elemental than the soft interpretation of Andras Schiff. This certainly does not make this CD a bad buy, it is an interesting approach, just not the perfect one, in my view. (Have you heard the one with Kocsis, for instance?)
5.0 out of 5 stars Schiff's Bartok is elegant and stately, in excellent sound 3 Sep 2013
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is a 1996 recording of Andras Schiff and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, led by Ivan Fischer for Warner. The all-Hungarian team plays Bartok with an elegant, stately, flair. Schiff's tone is superb, and the sound of the orchestra is full and reverberant. Schiff makes the difficult Bartok sound easy, but he has said of the popular Second Concerto: "[f]or the piano player, it's a finger-breaking piece. [It] is probably the single most difficult piece that I have ever played, and I usually end up with a keyboard covered by blood."

A great alternative to this recording is the exciting cycle of Bartok's three piano concertos from Yefim (Fima) Bronfman and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by Esa-Pekka Salonen, and recorded in 1993/1994. This was the first recording of these works that I heard, back in 2001, and I have been taken with it ever since. Only now (9/3/13), having heard other recordings, can I appreciate just how great these performances are -- the most exciting I have yet to discover.

The sound is not all it could be -- it seems a bit thin and pinched. The Schiff disc on Warner reveals more detail with a warmer sound. But this is no reason not to enjoy the thrills, which result partly because of a faster tempo, and partly due to Fima's exuberant playing. He makes me laugh with pure joy throughout these performances!

As Stravinsky so wisely said long ago, alternative interpretations of a score bring out all its potential. I for one would not want to be without Fima's high-energy recordings, but Schiff makes a great contrast.

Maurizio Pollini recorded the First and Second Concertos in 1977 with Claudio Abbado leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Pollini's is another top-of-the-line performance, and the Deutsche Grammophon engineering reveals a deeper ambience than the Sony or Warner. Pollini is masterful, and the CSO sounds great. However it is not directly competitive with the later Bronfman or Schiff recordings because it omits the Third Concerto. The 2007 reissue in DG's Grand Prix series includes instead the excellent "Two Portraits, op 5," with Shlomo Mintz on violin and Abbado leading the London Symphony Orchestra.

Bela Bartok was a great modernist, and very influential, but less so than his peers Stravinsky or Schoenberg because, as Milton Babbitt once complained, his innovations tended to be particular to each composition rather than a system like Schoenberg's 12-tone music. Bartok famously drew on Hungarian folk music, and his use of modal scales gives his music a uniquely odd quality in contrast to standard tonality, but he emphatically maintained that his music was tonal. The key was his mixing of modes, resulting in polytonality. What Bartok brought from the classical tradition was the strong influence of Liszt, Debussy, and Beethoven (thanks to the excellent November 1945 article from "The Musical Times").

Bartok performed the premieres of both the First and Second concertos. The premiere of the First was at the fifth International Festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music in Frankfurt on July 1, 1927, with Wilhelm Furtwängler conducting. The premiere of the Second was on January 23, 1933, also in Frankfurt, with Hans Rosbaud leading the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. The Third was written shortly before Bartok's death, and was premiered in Philadelphia by Hungarian pianist Gyorgy Sandor and Hungarian conductor Eugene Ormandy on February 8, 1946.

The First Concerto was considered quite spiky, modern, and difficult, and Bartok consciously set out to make the Second Concerto more performer and audience-friendly. On the second point he succeeded, especially with stronger melodic phrases. The Third Concerto is altogether more lyrical, more Romantic, less spiky and modern, basically the equivalent of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony of Bartok's piano concertos.
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