39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
This is an outstanding complete cycle of Beethoven's Piano Concertos. I ordered it after being very disappointed with the Brendel/Rattle set (from which I expected great things being a great admirer of both) and this Uchida/Sanderling set was a revelation. Uchida's more recent recordings of the late Piano Sonatas have proved her to be a very fine interpreter of Beethoven, winning almost universal praise, and this re-issue of her earlier ventures into Beethoven shows that she is very, very good in the concertos as well.
As with her excellent Mozart concertos, one of Uchida's great strengths is her restraint and refusal to resort to the sort of techniques which are intended to draw attention to the brilliance of the soloist and which (in my view, anyway) distract from the brilliance of the music. It isn't that she is cold or uninvolved - very far from it - but she uses her virtuosity to the service of Beethoven, not to the service of Uchida, and the result is magnificent music-making. She (as always) has a lovely tone and her technique is impeccable which makes the slower movements truly affecting and really memorable (the Adagio of the Emperor Concerto is stunning), and she has the power to give it some real welly when needed without it ever feeling forced or harsh.
Sanderling and the two orchestras he conducts on the set are also outstanding, with a real feel for both the music and for Uchida's playing; the partnership is a joy. The whole thing is a real tour de force from start to finish and I'm surprised that this cycle isn't better known - I think it knocks spots off several more celebrated sets. Furthermore it's an amazing bargain: as I write you can get the three-disc set for well under a tenner.
Experienced Beethoven listeners will all have their individual favourites playing each of the concertos, of course, and not everyone will like every concerto here as much as I do, but if you're looking for a really good complete cycle you have very little to lose and a wonderful musical experience to gain with this set and I recommend it very warmly indeed.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2013
I have never quite warmed to Mitsuko Uchida in Mozart for which she is renowned . Her recent CD of K271 and 467 with the Cleveland Orchestra I found strangely unsatisfying for all its beauty . K 271 too slow in particular .
On the other hand I consider her to be a great Beethoven and Schubert interpreter. Her restraint ,which in Mozart can teeter on the precious ,is a welcome corrective to some over the top romantic Beethoven playing but is also less marked here - she seems to let herself go rather more with Beethoven . What is so striking about this set is how marvellously not only she plays - her articulation and voicing is breathtaking but how she and Sanderling differentiate so brilliantly between the character of all five concertos . The First and Fourth Concertos are particular highlights but all deserve five stars.
Sanderling and the two superb orchestras accompany her every step of the way and there is some very special woodwind playing in particular . The slow movement of the Fourth Concerto is as well performed as in your dreams - Orpheus indeed .
This is a set that now at bargain price would be a brilliant library choice for an impecunious collector and for me joins Barenboim/Klemperer, Gilels first EMI cycle , Perahia/Haitink and Solomon/Menges at the top of the league for complete sets of these concertos .
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2008
a brilliant superb set , but just be aware concerto no 4 is live and there are a few bumps and squeeks that may put you off - it put me off enough to go and buy another set ...but other than that great playing and the sound is fine on the other cds.
on 11 June 2014
I already have the Melvyn Tan recordings of all the Beethoven piano concerti - which is excellent, performed on period instruments. The performances amply show how Beethoven was writing for developing instruments and taxing to their very limitations which creates a sense of "edge of the precipice" excitement!! However I wanted - having recently played in one of the concertos - No 4 (timpani in the last movement - not piano I hasten to add!!) - I wanted a modern performance. I bought a while ago 2 of the Naxos recordings but they are rather poorly recorded, have a horrible tinny piano and are quite pedestrian. I read through so many reviews of various performances and the only one I couldn't find any criticism of was the set by Mitsuko Uchida. I haven't been disappointed!! I cannot bear watching her in performance as her constant swaying, facial expressions and so on I find totally distracting and I haven't actually heard how she plays!! She looks when playing Mozart as if it is Tchaikowsky or Rachmaninov!! However when just listening to her in these Beethoven concertos, her playing is quite magnificent. The outer fast movements all have an energy and passion alongside real tenderness and lyricism in the gentler moments. Outstanding, as others have commented, is the first movement of No 4. The slow movements never drag but are quite beautifully played. The Concertgebouw is I think one of the finest of modern orchestras and its playing in these recordings matches amply the soloist. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this set as a must-have performance of these wonderful works!
on 17 July 2015
Having recently purchased the Andnes set, I expected to go back to this and find it inferior. How wrong I was. Andsnes' new recordings with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra are outstanding, but so is this collection. Stunning playing by Uchida who, as many have pointed out, is capable of well-judged restraint but is also fully capable for bringing the livelier and even humorous (concerto 1, 3rd movement) elements to life. So much joy exudes from both Uchida and the wonderful vivacious orchestra. An absolute pleasure.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2011
I bought this set for myself in October 2010 and thought it excellent value for money considering it's all five concertos plus 32 variations. I bought another set in December 2010 and gave it to someone as a Christmas present. The recipient has since told me how much they enjoy playing these CD's.