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4.0 out of 5 stars There are a lot of them, but . . .
Mid period Beethoven is a rich field right across the great man's output but nowhere more so than in these two piano concertos. I already have several recordings. While I would never go past Alfred Brendel's recordings with James Levine this, this latest in a long list of distinguished performances is beautiful, clear, a joy that I haven't stopped listening to since I...
Published on 3 July 2011 by Deep Reader

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2.0 out of 5 stars technical problem with recording
Unfortunately there was a consistent clicking noise in the background of Piano Concerto 5 and I would like to return this CD and obtain a new one. I still love the recording but it was disappointing to find the Concerto spoiled by the clicking
Published 20 months ago by Barbel Canning


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1.0 out of 5 stars average performance and poor sound quality - so vague and woolly as to be an insult to the listener, 6 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5 (Audio CD)
I am primarily discussing the Fourth here. There are so many preferable versions of the Emperor out there, I will leave that to somebody else.

Since in no respect does this product satisfy I find it difficult to sum up or compare with versions that - for good reason have stood the test of time, among those being, of course, Stephen Kovacevich and Colin Davis on Philips, this is the gutsy heart on your sleeve version, or Lili Kraus and Desarzens - somewhat dated, but who else could give the alternate view, the fond look back to the classical elegance of the Eighteenth Century?

Or the 1959 recording by Hans Richter-Haaser with Kertesz and the Philharmonia, available either from EMI as part of a box set tribute or from Testament. The sound is glorious, light years ahead of this ECM disc, and the pianist is playing with full heart and technique. This level of musical involvement would seem to be an alien concept among many current record labels, performers and, unfortunately, the commercially minded critics writing up the poor results. Hopefully, this ECM disc will have a short life and never again be reissued, even as a budget release. I am not sure Nagano's career will recover - he has had plenty of chances and seems to do well on the Continent, but I have never been impressed by any of his recordings. Perhaps he is better live in the concert hall; I will see in Berlin in April. Fellner still has time on his side.

I was privileged to hear in concert Andreas Haefliger and Christoph von Dohnanyi with the superb Philharmonia offer a similar fastidious interpretation along these same lines with an oh so subtle exchange between the soloist and orchestra in the second movement (the famous question and answer) together with some ravishing precise pianism that had not graced the London Festival Hall for some time in my humble opinion. I thought of Paul Badura-Skoda, even Geza Anda or Peter Frankl. That was the quality on offer that evening.

Hence, I find a disc like this intolerable. This is a nowhere interpretation from a conductor and soloist without any clear view of the work.

And as for the sound quality...the Lili Kraus from 1961, not a great recorded sound, is ten times better, while the 1971 Philips is in a completely different class. The Kovacevich has never gone out of print and was a Gramophone Award winner. The Kraus can be obtained by MP3 download only I am afraid or vintage vinyl. The fabulous Haefliger has yet to record it...now that would be worth celebrating with 5 stars!

The only thing I think is going for this ECM travesty (they really should stick to electro-acoustic over processed music) is the somewhat rare coupling of 4 and 5 on one disc. You can get Weissenberg 3 and 4, or 3 and 5, on a single disc, or the Emperor by itself. If you want something "different" then I think that version with Karajan has more or less cleared the field in this respect.

For something more solid and monumental Emil Gilels and Ludwig offer celebrated performances of 4 and 5 on a single disc available freshly remastered by Testament.

Of all the Emperor's out there Arturo Michelangeli (DGG or try the Oslo Broadcast DVD to discover why he is regarded as one of the greatest pianists of the Twentieth Century) is probably the last word, or perhaps for sheer power, Rudolf Firkusny on EMI/Seraphim

But this ECM version is almost rubbish.
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2.0 out of 5 stars technical problem with recording, 18 Jun. 2013
By 
Barbel Canning (Collingwood, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5 (Audio CD)
Unfortunately there was a consistent clicking noise in the background of Piano Concerto 5 and I would like to return this CD and obtain a new one. I still love the recording but it was disappointing to find the Concerto spoiled by the clicking
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4.0 out of 5 stars There are a lot of them, but . . ., 3 July 2011
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Deep Reader - See all my reviews
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Mid period Beethoven is a rich field right across the great man's output but nowhere more so than in these two piano concertos. I already have several recordings. While I would never go past Alfred Brendel's recordings with James Levine this, this latest in a long list of distinguished performances is beautiful, clear, a joy that I haven't stopped listening to since I took the download.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful playing, 30 Nov. 2010
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This review is from: Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5 (Audio CD)
I have an old recording of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto on Vynil, which still gives great pleasure; but wanted a more recent CD recording. This is quite superb, bringing real freshness to the concerto. The orchestra and piano playing complement each other superbly. The piano is so delicate - with extraordinary range; and the delicate shifts of tempo are handled with great subtlety. I shall certainly look out for Till Fellner's other recordings. VERY highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Beethoven Performance, 9 Sept. 2010
By 
J. Johnson "Jon J" (Birmingham U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5 (Audio CD)
Best new recording of Piano Concerti 4 & 5 for years. Fellner has a subtle sound which brings out the lyrical quality of Beethoven, sadly lacking from many recent performances. The Montreal under Nagano are on top form aswell. Don't hesitate go out and buy this disc, excellent value.
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Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5
Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven (Audio CD - 2010)
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