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Beethoven: Triple Concerto, Choral Fantasia & Rondo
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Beethoven: Triple Concerto, Choral Fantasia & Rondo

3 April 2006 | Format: MP3

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 17 Sept. 2004
  • Release Date: 3 April 2006
  • Label: Warner Classics International
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:04:19
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001LKBL60
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,073 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD
The release of this recording inspired me to revisit an earlier review of the Triple Concerto with Daniel Barenboim, Itzak Perlman, and Yo-Yo Ma as soloists - a recording which I still prefer (please check my review). To put the music in context, while most listeners will be most familiar with Beethoven's symphonies, he left a vast range of work which explores human emotion and the human condition. His Triple Concerto for violin, cello and piano was written in 1804, after his deafness had plunged him into the depths of depression and at a time when he had begun to rediscover both his confidence and his desire to express himself. It is a work which will tug at your emotions on many levels. A gentler piece of music than the symphonies, it has no less depth and power. The balance and contrast of the three solo instruments demands more concentrated listening than the symphonies, which, once you are familiar with them, you can often allow to wash over you as background music while you read or write or relax. The Triple Concerto is at its most rewarding when you shut your eyes and listen to the performance.
This new recording with Aimard, Zehetmair, and Hagen is joyful and a joy to hear. They present the menu of emotions with authority and no little style. The contribution by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe is a delight. Orchestra and soloists offer the piece with a passion and an understanding which is never sterile or academic. The sound balance is excellent. Were it not for my preference for the earlier recording, I would rate this as the best I have heard. But, of course, that is a matter of personal taste, and I could hardly claim to be an expert.
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Format: Audio CD
Being an avid Beethoven fanatic, since I first heard the op.80 Choral Fantasia many years ago it has become not only my favourite Beethoven work but my favourite piece of music of all time, in any genre. For me the piece contains a bit of everything that was Beethoven: an ominous and tense piano intoduction, superb "conversations" between the piano and orchestra throughout, highly imaginative variation of a simple theme, a midway outburst of intensity that makes the heart race and a true Beethovian finale to cap it all off! Every time I listen to it I have a big smile on my face afterwards, no matter what else is going on in my life.

I have explored many recordings of this work and have to say that this is by far the best performance I have heard. The recording is of very good quality despite being able to hear a few background sounds from the performers, and the performances are exceptional, especially the piano and voice parts.

The other major work on this disc, the Triple Concerto, is another of Beethoven's greats and again the performances are flawless.
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Format: Audio CD
It was a very powerful experience listening to this the first time. The Orchestra is superb throughout and even manage to keep up with the sometimes puzzling, strange and for me inappropriate tempo vagueries - especially from Mssr Aimard and particularly noticeable in the "contests, battles and erotic conversations" between the three major instruments.
It is the depth and emotive power of exactly this interplay which makes this concerto for me a rare experience and thus the, for me, oddities introduced in this recording lead to disappointment. Someone coming new to the work might find them stimulating, fresh, invigorating even. I simply find them wrong .. and I do not think I will be alone in this. I do not consider myself a stick in the mud who sniffs at anything but Karajan.
As above, the orchestra performs brilliantly throughout, quite wonderful, even when required it seems to play a, to me, strange tempo mix. The other works on the CD were fresh and invigorating. They are not part of my main listening repertoire, perhaps because of that I was fairly happy with the interpretation.
In totum, clearly a remarkable performance all round, not the way I think Beethoven should be played but ...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9caac2ac) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bc84708) out of 5 stars Best Recording I've Heard of the Beethoven Triple Concerto 24 April 2005
By John Kwok - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I have to go back a while to recall a truly memorable performance of the Beethoven Triple Concerto I've either heard as a recording or live performance. The finest recording I've heard until now was an absolutely rhapsodic, vibrant interpretation with the Beaux Arts Trio and Bernard Haitink conducting the London Philharmonic. However, this new Warner Classics recording is quite simply the most daring, exciting performance of the Beethoven Triple Concerto I have heard with graceful, lyrical playing from pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, coupled with fiery performances from cellist Clemens Hagen and violinist Thomas Zehetmair, which revel in the then novelty offered by Beethoven's composition when it was introduced in the early 1800s. Nikolaus Harnoncourt leads the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in yet another spirited, dramatic performance of a Beethoven concerto without overwhelming the remarkable performances of these three splendid soloists. Without question, it is an excellent coda to the Aimard's Beethoven piano concerto cycle released earlier on Teldec, now Warner Classics. To their credit, both Aimard and the orchestra play the Rondo with ample gusto. Together, they offer yet another amazing performance in the Choral Fantasy, demonstrating that it too is a revolutionary work composed by Beethoven, and not merely, a rough sketch for his 9th Symphony's fourth movement. This splendid recording, blessed with exceptional sound quality, will please fans of Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. I strongly concur with The New York Times's assessment of this recording as among the finest classical music recordings of 2004.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bc846f0) out of 5 stars Good, yes, but surprisingly tame from Harnoncourt 28 Aug. 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD
In his cycle of Beethoven symphonies Harnonourt's conducting was aggressive, often aburpt, unnerving, and challenging to absorb. For some reason he drops all that in his recording of the Triple Concerto and Choral Fantasy. There have been excellent virtouoso readings of the Triple recently with Barenboim and Argerich as pianist. They show more intensity than this quiet-voiced, almost classical version. There's no doubt that the soloists, particularly Aimard, are wonderufl players, but it takes a while for the first movement to catch fire. Every time Aimard is given room to expand, he's brought back down to earth by the more restained Hagen on cello. (To the reviewers below who unanimously proclaim 'best ever,' I can only point to the unsurpassed version under Karajan with Richter, Oistrakh, and Rostropovich, a towering recording.)

In the Choral Fantasy there is an impassioned performance from Bernstein and Rudolf Serkin from the Sixties (Sony), as well as a fine one from Barenboim as both conductor and soloist, in concert with the Berlin Phil. on EMI. By comparison, Aimard is unusually cautious--he prefers restraint over the free-wheeling and totally thrilling spontaneity of Serkin. Harnoncourt remains just as restrained, so despite the all-around excellence of the performers, I can't see this one being anywhere near a first choice.

In sum, both readings fall somewhere in the middle of the pack but are enjoyable and more than competent in all espects. Fine recorded sound, by the way.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e69fc84) out of 5 stars The true feel of classics - with Harnoncourt's unique twists of conducting 26 Dec. 2010
By Discophage - Published on
Format: Audio CD
A number of distinguishing features mark out this version of the Triple Concerto and make it one that stands out.

Harnoncourt's freedom of phrasing. Just try the opening theme, played by cellos and double basses. Everybody else takes it "in time", keeping a steady beat during the bars of silence that separate the elements of that opening theme; Not Harnoncourt. He slightly delays his beats, giving the impression that the opening phrases are freely sung - or rather, hummed, or even whispered - by the orchestra, in a quasi-improvisatory manner.

The clarity of the orchestra's inner voicing. Try the viola and cello triplets at 1:14; the various instrumental strands are always clearly heard, woodwinds usually not covered (there are spots though in the first movement where you won't hear them if you don't have the score to tell you that they are playing). The balance between the orchestra and the soloists is perfect.

There is nothing radical in Harnoncourt's choices of tempos, on the contrary: they are all middle-of-the-road and well within tradition. He takes an easy-going view (his first movement is more expansive than Karajan's for instance, Triple Concerto / Double Concerto), feeling very natural, genial, if not laid-back. He doesn't quite attain the sublime beauty of Karajan's time-suspended Largo, but this is something you hear only on comparative listening.

Another one of Harnoncourt's distinguishing marks, he can be robust in the tutti, with forceful horns and trumpets, which lends the music an added dynamism and muscularity. He offers a shrine in which the soloists' lyricism and playful interplay can freely unfold.

Said soloists are excellent. That's the norm in the recordings of this work, which has been honored by no less than Oistrakh-Knushevitzky-Oborin (Triple Violin Concerto), Oistrakh-Rostropovich-Richter, Stern-Rose-Istomin (Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 Triple Concertos - Essential Classics), Schneiderhan-Fournier-Anda (Beethoven: Triple Concerto; Brahms: Double Concerto), Laredo-Parnas-Serkin (Beethoven Triple Concerto/Brahms Double Concero: Serkin, Stern), Szeryng-Starker-Arrau (Beethoven: Triple Concerto; Choral Fantasy [Australia]), the Beaux Arts trio (Beethoven: Triple Concerto / Choral Fantasy). So it is nothing to particularly distinguish this version, but suffice to say that Aimard, Zehetmair and Hagen are second to none of the above mentioned, and can take pride of place in that stellar roster. Only in the the "magyar" passage starting at 5:08 in the finale do I find their phrasings to be on the verge of fusiness. But you can call it interpretive personality just as well.

Most people seem puzzled with Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, with its original version of a theme that will later become the main theme of the finale of the 9th Symphony, because it is so bizarrely constructed, a piano concerto of sorts but starting with a huge cadenza, and with a chorus (and six soloists) just standing there waiting for nearly fifteen minutes and singing three minutes (that's still shorter than in the 9th Symphony), with those tunes that seem to verge at times on the jauntily corny but are sometimes Beethoven at his most grandiose, martial and dramatic. I love the Choral Fantasy. Just consider that it is the missing link between the finale of Mozart's Magic Flute and the Choral movement of the 9th Symphony, Beethoven's hymn of faith in mankind and enlightenment, and it makes entire sense. And it is precisely its bizarre construction that I find so appealing, its absence of rules or rather, the fact that Beethoven has invented an ad-hoc set of rules, besides filling it with wonderfully imaginative touches of orchestration and echt-Beethovenian piano writing.

Harnoncourt pulls all those strands together quite convincingly with, again, choices of tempo that, at the beginning, seem to make this one a very traditional view, highlighting the reflexive and lyrical side of the composition rather than its jubilant atmosphere, and likewise with Aimard, who takes the customary, expansive and grandiose approach of the introductory cadenza (but why does he there legatoize Beethoven's staccato writing? Not only does it go against the letter of the score, but it isn't nearly as effective).

But in fact,it turns out that Harnoncourt hightights the contrasts rather than just one aspect of the piece: there is a rage to his Allegro molto (track 6 at 5:15) that makes it irresistibly "turkish"- Mozart's Entführung came to mind - and the Marcia (track 6 at 9:31) has great drive and military robustness. Harnoncourt has a great sextet of soloists and great chorus, although I find that, at his slightly held-back tempo, they lack the ultimate sense of jubilation.

On the surface there is nothing radical in these readings (although Harnoncourt's unique twists of conducting bring them distinctly out of the lot). For more daring views, you may want to go Zinman (Beethoven: Triple Concerto; Septet, Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 5), but these have the true feel of classics. Although the booklet doesn't explicitly say so, these sound like live performance (or patched from), there are a few unobtrusive stage noises, especially at the beginning of the Triple Concerto. TT 64:22.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e6a106c) out of 5 stars An incredibly rich sonic banquet 25 Nov. 2005
By gotta_hava_dog - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This recording is fabulous. It's rich, deep and colorful. The piano itself sounds absolutely wonderful. Its clarity and voice are exceptional. Unlike some recordings that sound as if the performers are very pleased with themselves, the performers in this recording sound as though they are playing for the sheer joy of playing and for the sake of the music and not for themselves. It's very refreshing. I first heard this broadcast on our Public Radio Classical station. It was so distinct and unique that I came right to Amazon and bought it. It resonates in your chest, it's so rich. Really outstanding!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e6a1018) out of 5 stars Engrossing 21 May 2008
By David Saemann - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The first thing to note about the performance of the Triple Concerto is the sonic perspective. Harnoncourt divides the violins to left and right, with cellos slightly left of center, while the sound engineering places the piano trio in among the orchestra, rather than spotlighting the soloists. This technique is unusual among recordings of this piece. I have an LP of it with the Beaux Arts Trio and Bernard Haitink in which the trio someimes drowns out the orchestra. As for the performance, Harnoncourt's work is thrilling. This is probably the best conducted performance of the piece I've ever heard. The soloists don't match the Oistrakh-Richter-Rostropovich performance, but they are certainly very good. The Choral Fantasy is given an excellent performance overall. Once again, Harnoncourt's direction is vigorous and incisive, while Aimard shows that his earlier recording of Beethoven's Appasionata Sonata was no fluke. Aimard plays with vigor and imagination, and a big tone. There are certain bars in the piece where I prefer the interpretation of Rudolf Serkin with Leonard Bernstein, but this newer version loses very little in comparison with that classic reading. There have been excellent digital recordings of the Triple Concerto by the Eroica Trio and the Moscow Trio, but anyone wanting the current coupling need not hesitate.
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