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Piano Concertos 3 & 4

Beethoven , Bronfman , Zinman , Zurich Tonhalle Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 7.61 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Piano Concertos 3 & 4 + Piano Concerto No 5 + Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos 1-4
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Product details

  • Audio CD (13 Sep 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Arte Nova Classics
  • ASIN: B000AMPZNU
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 177,340 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. I. Allegro Con Brio
2. II. Largo
3. III. Rondo: Allegro
4. I. Allegro Moderato
5. II. Andante Con Moto
6. III. Rondo: Vivace

Product Description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another major success for Bronfman and Zinman 7 Jun 2013
By I. Giles TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
This disc, very well recorded and first published in 2005, offers clean, accurate and satisfying performances unhindered by idiosyncrasies and which are very clearly 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.

The extensive orchestral opening to the third concerto immediately alerts the listener to the very special contribution which is likely to be made by Zinman and his orchestra. This is orchestral playing full of incident with so many details previously ignored or glossed over which now have considerable importance to the ongoing musical argument. This comes as quite a shock when one realises how much has previously been missing in previous performances of high repute. This much enhanced role for the orchestra and its individual or corporate members is made readily accessible to the listener through a recording balance that allows such a dialogue to take place without exaggeration or artificial balances.

Bronfman tailors his playing to suit, keeping textures light and sparkling and without superimposing emotionally heavy phrasing.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zinman, Tonhalle Zurich, & Bronfman=Athletic, Brilliant Beethoven 2 Nov 2005
By drdanfee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Okay, so let's get right to the bottom line: Get this CD right away. No matter who else already sits on your fav shelf for this music, you will find it quite easy to add this new recording of the Beethoven 3rd & 4th piano concertos. Cheap price, too. But nothing cheap, nothing cheap at all about either the recorded sound, or the quality of these performances.

If you have heard - and liked - the approach that Zinman & Tonhalle took to their prize-winning set of the complete Beethoven Symphonies (which deservedly earned the German record critics prize, and is also at budget prices on Arte Nova) - you can settle into your home system, or mp3 player, or car stereo for lots more of that same, Beethovenish vitality.

To recap.

Zinman & Tonhalle have been influenced by all the paths opened up in the period instrument performances of baroque and classical music over the past five or six decades; without really having to play on gut strings and period instruments. So what's left? Well, somehow Zinman & Tonhalle manage their Beethoven with clarity, wit, punchy phrasing, and the wide open humanism that are the hallmarks of Beethoven's musical personality. There is not one ounce of romanticized fat in any of these Zinman-Tonhalle versions of the symphonies, and that is all to the good, since Beethoven is not at all confined to what the nineteenth century made out of him and made out of his music. In addition to the clarity, the tonal transparency that period peformance suggests, Zinman-Tonhalle also give us the rough-hewn punning, the startlingly clear and high musical intellect, and the energy that fairly bursts from Beethoven's unprecedented approach to both harmony and rhythm. Listening to Beethoven played this way, you easily credit his supposed reputation as the finest improviser of his era.

Into this notable Beethoven mix comes pianist Yefim Bronfman. He certainly has his chops. More to the point, Bronfman and Zinman-Tonhalle are worthy and alert partners throughout. Conductor & pianist see eye to eye, without losing their own insights and musical commitments. Put Tonhalle, Zinman & Bronfman together in Beethoven, and you get alchemy that is way more than the simple sum of the parts. The 3rd concerto may have been an improvement on the first and second piano concertos, even in the composer's mind; but the 4th reaches even higher and deeper. As a reference point, Bronfman's playing is closer to, say, Wilhelm Kempff or Wilhelm Backhaus or the young Leon Fleischer in this repertoire, than to more highly italicized styles of alleged romantic piano playing. This Beethoven cannot ever be confused with Chopin or Schumann or Rachmaninoff. That is just as it should be.

If the Tonhalle strings do themselves proud in accompanying, that is not to undervalue or disrespect the amazing contributions of the woodwinds and the brass. Simply everybody showed up for the sessions, and nobody was playing by rote.

All of this Beethovenian energy and sheer joy in living would be nothing if the recording engineers had not done their job, too. The sound is rather close and clear, somewhat in the old Szell-Cleveland manner; without any multi-miked glare and without any fuzz. From top frequency to bottom, the orchestra departments are all present, and nobody is sacrificed to make anybody else's point. The piano is placed just right, as a solo instrument with the rest of the orchestra, and not playing in another room somewhere on its own spot mike with the pianist wearing headphones.

One hopes dearly that this is the beginning of a complete Beethoven piano concerto cycle from Bronfman, Zinman, Tonhalle. One even dreams of Arte Nova being brave enough to redo their old Beethoven sonata cycle with Yefim Bronfman to replace Alfredo Perl. There is not a bit of glassy tone here, no matter how crisply Bronfman plays; and that would serve the piano sonatas very well (if anybody at Arte Nova is listening).

Five stars, then. Now stop reading & click your way to happy, amazed ownership. Yeah. These guys are just that good.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! 1 Nov 2005
By Peter Prainito - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Pianist Bronfman and conductor Zinman team up and deliver an outstanding recording of the Beethoven 3rd and 4th piano concertos. From the very opening measures of piano concerto #3 one realizes that this CD is going to be something special. Not only is the pianist great, but so is the orchestral accompaniment. Of the five piano concertos that Beethoven wrote, only his third was written in a minor key and it is awesome! It ranks along side his 3rd (Eroica) and 5th symphonies as one of his most passionate and outstanding compositions. I love all five of Beethoven's piano concertos, but the third is my favorite. The coupling of concerto #4 is also very fine. Here Beethoven is at his most lyrical, with a beautiful second movement. It is very obvious that both the pianist and orchestra are in sync in every way and relishing every moment. At a bargain price this is one CD that should not be missed!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Collaboration: Zinman and Bronfman 4 Feb 2006
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
David Zinman has clearly made the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra his own since he became music director. The orchestra has become a finely tuned, golden hued, thoroughly vital ensemble and the fact that this pairing has resulted in perhaps the most popularly selling set of the complete Beethoven symphonies speaks volumes. Of course, the added bonus is the fine recording techniques of Arte Nova Classics AND the very affordable price of their releases!

Yefim Bronfman continues to mature into one of our finest pianists before the audience today. Though his proclivity for the 20th century masters (Bartok, Prokofiev, etc) has been well established, his probing and facile accounts of the Beethoven concerti are as profoundly romantic as they come. On this particular CD he essays both the Beethoven 3rd and 4th piano concerti with a firm grasp of the fine architecture of each piece, a phenomenal technique, and a sensitivity to the interplay with the orchestra. David Zinman's thinking is in the same vein and the response he draws from the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra is vital and balanced and matches Bronfman's phrasing perfectly.

For a truly fine recording of these concert hall favorites this superb (and very inexpensive!) belongs in everyone's library. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, February 06
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired Beethoven Concertos 16 July 2007
By Robin Friedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
David Zinman conducting the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and pianist Yefim Bronman have collaborated in a series of outstanding performances of the Beethoven piano concertos, especially the third and fourth concertos included on this CD. Zinman has become noted for his period readings of Beethoven while Bronfman has made a reputation as a romantic, highly-charged pianist. But a unity of spirit and music-making pervades this CD. Zinman brings a light, transparent sound to his orchestra which tends towards the stacatto in places and emphasizes the woodwinds. Bronfman plays with sensitivity, lyricism, and finesse. He also brings dazzle to the many virtuosic passages.

With the passage of the years, Beethoven's Third Concerto in C minor opus 37 has become my favorite of the five. It is Beethoven's only minor-key concerto and its performance raises a host of interpretive issues. Some performers and scholars see the third as dating from around 1800 which would put it in the company of the first and second concertos as early Beethoven. Others see the music more expansively and, not surprisingly, date the work from the years 1802-1803 when Beethoven, aware of his impending deafness, radically changed his compositional course. Other interpretive questions about the third include the extent to which Beethoven used Mozart's great C minor concerto, K. 491, as a model for his own.

Zinman and Bronfman bring a lightness to this work which reminds me of early Beethoven while bringing out as well the great advance Beethoven attained in the third from its early predecessors. Zinman's performance of the lengthy orchestral introduction to the work lacks the ponderousness of some other readings and mitigates the difficulties some critics have seen in the symphonic character of the work. And from the moment Bronfman enters with the piano's series of rising scales, the performance is his. The third is the Beethoven concerto in which, from the moment of its entry, the piano is at center stage, and Bronfman makes the most of it. Bronfman plays smoothly with the long passages of filigree and arpeggios enlacing the themes of the movement while bringing out with force the flamboyant large downward runs which are a feature of this movement. The cadenza is full of virtuosity.

The second movement of this work establishes Beethoven's own character at the outset, as it is placed in a remote key of E major, giving an etherial quality to the music. The piano is again fully at center stage with long reflective passages and beautifully lacy passages accompanied by winds and by the cellos. Carl Czerny, Beethoven's pupil, said that this theme "must sound like a holy, distant and celestial Harmony." In Zinman's and Bronfman's hands,it does.

The third movement is a dance-like idiosyncratic rondo which begins in the minor key but moves into C major for a triumphant prestissimo conclusion. There are fugal passages in the episodes and several echoes of the second movement. Bronfman's playing is vigorous.

Beethoven's fourth concerto in G major opus 58 is the favorite Beethoven concerto of many listeners. This work shows that Beethoven's middle style was much more complex and varied that the "heroic" Beethoven of the third and fifth symphonies, the "Emperor" concerto, and the "Waldstein" sonata. Bronfman establishes the tone of the work at the outset with his lucid performance of the piano's opening solo. As someone who struggles with the piano, his performance reminded me of the beauty of quiet, smooth, and lyrical playing. There are some unforgettable passages near the end of the opening movement where Bronfman accompanies the orchestral recollection of the main theme with exquisitely light chords. The second movement involves a duet between soloist and orchestra. Zinman's orchestra plays brusquely and with a marked stacatto touch which is an ideal foil for Bronfman's pleading solos. The finale is brisk and flowing with lovely interchanges between Bronfman's piano and a solo cello.

At its budget price, this CD is difficult to resist. This CD offers a classic performance of two great Beethoven concertos.

Robin Friedman
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beethoven For Real 13 Mar 2008
By T. R. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Dan Fee has said it all, beautifully, regarding this recording. I can only add that, the telling moment in this recordings is in the development of the first movement of the 4th, and the massive nature of the drama of the second movement. I've so many recordings of this work. Beautiful are they all are, in various ways, but nobody gets these two sections so right on as Bronfman/Zinman. I've heard Bronfman many times in person, and wondered why he isn't a household name.

The development of the first movement is one of the piano concerto's greatest moments. Why does everyone else let the piano rule and obscure the battle that exists in the orchestra against the piano? Not in this recording is this allowed. The immense drama of hearing EVERY note in the winds, the strings, as the piano rages in arpeggio, is the point! Not one note can be wasted. As my teacher said once, "never be ashamed of the left hand in Beethoven." I think this is the only way to present this development section. Everyone else subdues the orchestra as though it is less than the piano part. Beethoven meant every note. And this is the only recording I have that allows that. And what a glorious turbulence we get from this reading! The drama that is what being human is all about.

Then, there is Zinman's perfect articulation of the orchestral statements in the second movement. Violent, near vociferous, not to be subdued. But they are, by Bronfman's answers. This is perhaps the greatest piano concerto ever written, as I've often been told, and now I know why. In this very short slow movement, more is said, philosophically, contained in so few measures, than many pianists get in recordings of the entire cycle of Sonatas.

To paraphrase James Agee's title for his great documentary work, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Musicians." Bravo, Bronfman and Zinman. Finally, we hear the 4th as it was written. To please me is one thing, but to please Beethoven, good luck! And I'm sure the master is pleased to hear this played as we hear in this recording. And thank you, Mr. Fee, for your wonderful, well-thought-out examination of this recording.
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