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Beethoven: Complete Piano Concertos Box set

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

Price: £9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Product details

  • Performer: Perahia Murray
  • Conductor: Bernard Haitink
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (26 May 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Sony Music Classical
  • ASIN: B000P7VOXU
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,845 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Disc 2
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Disc 3
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Product Description

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I find this collection of the five Beethoven piano concertos totally satisfying: excellent performances from both the pianist and the orchestra, well recorded with a natural and detailed sound. I have two more sets of the Beethoven piano concertos: Maurizio Pollini with the Berliner Philharmoniker directed by Claudio Abbado (recorded live), and Wilhelm Kempff with the Berliner Philharmoniker directed by Ferdinand Leitner, both on DG. Very difficult to say which one is the best. But I think my favorite one is the Kempff-Leitner set, by a very small gap with respect to Pollini-Abbado and this Perahia-Haitink.

I have just one complaint about the packaging of this triple CD. The digipac (plastic and cardboard) is nice (even if cheap) but I find very annoying that no booklet is provided. There are the track listing plus place and date of recordings printed on the packaging and nothing more! Not even time length of each track! Surely the price is low, but someone buying physical CD (and not digital downloads) is used to have always such additional information. So, five stars to the music, two stars to the CD packaging.
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I don't know if there is another pianist who knows more about sensitive lyric beauty than Murray Perahia. The thoughtfulness that is always present in his work makes him one of the world's greatest pianists. Partnered with him on this disc is the famed Bernard Haitink, who leads the illustrious Concertgebouw. I have to say that our partners do a fabulous job pulling out the lyric beauty in these works. You'll probably never hear the Beethoven concertos given an account that is this sensitive again. Perahia and the Concertgebouw blend in a chamber-like way that brings out wonderful detail, but not in a way that sacrifices the "full orchestra" effect. The detail that is brought out is ravishing.

Having said this, Perahia's set is not one that reveals much of the masculine side of the great master. It wouldn't hurt to have more fire in these works. Some people will find the interpretation tame, complaining that he should have "let loose" more. But then again, others will be extremely sympathetic with his approach, as some experienced listeners point to this as their very favorite Beethoven concerti set. I'm somewhere in between, although I lean towards the second, more favorable group. I personally think Perahia is better with music that isn't so big and grand; his Bach sees him at his artistic height. Sometimes in the course of this set it becomes clear that Perahia isn't at his best with heroic material, as he occasionally sounds a bit harsh.

Still, I still find this to be a wonderful disc, one that I'm sure glad to have in my collection. I'm honestly very tempted to raise my rating to 5 stars as the lyricism that is present makes for a real treat. This is nostalgic Beethoven that will ravish the ears.
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Beethoven's Five Piano Concertos are in the hands of master-performers here and I found listening to this set a very inspiring and hugely enjoyable experience. Perahia's playing is as brilliant and intensely musical as ever and the instrument he performs on sounds first class, with a gloriously rich tone. Haitink, as usual, is a very sensitive accompanist as conductor of the Concertgebouw, whose playing is superb throughout. This must rank alongside the very best of recorded performances of these vital works in Beethoven's output.
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Format: Audio CD
As you would expect, Perahia plays beautifully in these recordings, but occasionally I miss the sense of drama and grandeur so essential in Beethoven. Perahia's approach works best in the 4th Concerto, which is given one of its best performances here. Warmly lyrical, with a beautiful interplay with the excellent Concertgebouw. The first movement especially is an unqualified success - I don't think I've ever heard it so poetically played. Maybe the second movement could be a bit more dramatic and the finale more energetic, but overall this is one of the finest recordings of the work I've heard.

Elsewhere, Perahia's playing, while always beautiful, is just a bit too plain for my tastes. The 2nd Concerto, for example, lacks the youthful energy that Kovacevich brings, or Brendel's humour. The 3rd Concerto is appropriately dark, but here again Kovacevich is more fiery in the outer movements and poetic in the slow movement. The only relative disappointment is the Emperor Concerto, which is a bit bland compared to the majesty, grandeur and energy other pianists bring, from Gilels in his splendid recording with Ludwig to Arrau and, of course, the young Kovacevich.

Ultimately, it depends what kind of Beethoven you prefer. For a Classical interpretation that emphasises the music's Haydnesque traits Perahia is your man. But if you want more energy and contrast, I'd point you towards the Kovacevich/Davis cycle.
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Format: Audio CD
A superb collection of Beethoven's piano concertos. As usual, Murray Perahia's playing is as near perfection as you can get. His interpretation of these concertos displays the breadth of his talents. The quality of the recordings is also excellent.
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