Learn more Download now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Shop now Learn more

Customer reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 4
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£9.90+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 1 June 2017
The piano is over recorded and placed too forward in the balance. On the whole both recordings suffer from a lack of an overall integrated soundstage while the volume levelling is too obvious and in the case of the start of the No 4 robs the movement right from the beginning and progressively thereafter of much atmosphere and poetry (they are mixed for download and in-ear listening I fear) however the general recorded volume level is high - as indicated, a dead give away this is aimed beyond the traditional classical music buying public.

As for the pianism, I am baffled by the effulgent praise this generation of Chinese "prodigies" - in Lang Lang's case he seems to embody the happy clappy marketing concept of enthusiasm x youth squared. There is not a musical phrase or passage on this disc which does not start to jar, sound forced or awkward, betrays a disturbing lack of confidence or uncertainty about classical style. The brilliant and humorous No 1 is earthbound and plodding.


As for No 4, there are a number of great performances, Gilels for example , in the catalogue (and not a few duds, Fellner/Nagano, which this Lang Lang doesn't quite fall into) and though better I thought than No 1 because Lang Lang's broad Romantic exaggerations tend to fit in more closely with the music of No 4 while Eschenbach and his players have more to say. Even so the same sound quality issues, described above, affect this performance too. Here again the performance fails to convince in that ultimately satisfying way: the runs up and down the keyboard and virtuoso flourishes just do not impress or excite.


In both cases, the Vienna Symphony for Guilini and BBC Symphony for Colin Davis are better than the French orchestra here which has never shone as a first class or even regional orchestra due to its chequered history. Interestingly, Eschenbach as a Chopin Competition prize winner was taken up by DG in the 1960s and recorded a fairly nondescript Beethoven 1 with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic in 1967 and that and this collaboration with Lang Lang on the piano stool bear interesting similarities in style - or lack of it. I must say I thought Eschenbach was more polished if random soloist than Lang Lang. However, there was no follow up - Karajan recorded the whole cycle with Alexis Weissenberg in 1977 on EMI and THIS is a desirable set of performances with an important C20 pianist.

For further afield reference points Friedrich Wuhrer in No 1 (Vox 1957?) and Josef Panenka (Supraphon 1970) offer fabulous listening and insights. After all, with the great Concerto No 4 and its transitional place in Beethoven's development, a less strident more sensitive interpretation works equally well as I found out in a Festival Hall concert with Dohnanyi//Philharmonia and Andreas Haefliger. Pure magic. But when will they record it?
22 Comments| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 29 March 2013
Whatever Lang Lang plays is magical and his talent is breathtaking.I could listen to this CD for hours. I love it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 2 May 2012
Lang Lang's performance doesn't fail to thrill. This recording captures the essence of his perfect rendition by the most talented of pianists. His expression is so varied from subtle to emphatic and simply makes one want to hear more.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 23 April 2012
The first cd with the pianoconcertos is very fine have a high qualitty but cd no 2 is not working at all

Best regards

Mogens Konner
11 Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 6 August 2011
Brilliant recording! The no 1 is brilliant and sparkling. The no 4 has subtle shifts like sun through a tree on a windy summer's day.
Lang is one of the most brilliant technical pianists I have ever heard. But I can't hear any real depth.
Eschenbach gives the perfect framework. I can't wish for anything more from that. Now I want to find more of his recordings!
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 30 July 2010
I could not agree more with Christoph Eschenbach's observation about Lang Lang - of the multi-repertoire that young Lang has savoured since his child prodigy days, he requires a specialty composer so as to be able to dwell deeper into the musical language, and Beethoven is probably the best choice for him.
I have listened and greatly admired the Harnoncourt Beethoven piano concerti (Harnoncourt being one of my favorite contemproary conductors since the 1970's). The orchestration in that recording was simply superb, and the character, style and soul of Harnoncourt in Beethoven's works hard to beat.
Eschenbach's conducting here is also good, but to my personal view, not as good as Harnoncourt's. This may be subjective, but I do find the `Beethoven style' some what lacking here, especially the tutti parts of these two works.
As for Lang Lang in the solo parts, this not to say that Lang's playing is perfect, nor the best, but it is not one jot `bad' as many would claim. Why compare him with Argerich? Argerich had declined Harnoncourt's invitation to record for HIM then, because she does not play the entire set of Beethoven Concerti, and would not want to learn those that she did not know.
So much for the mature pianist. The two concerti chosen here could indeed still be improved upon, though one must bear in mind that the 4th is considered to be the most introverted piano concertos of Beethoven, and Lang Lang had tuned down much of his highly inflammatory style.
The 3rd movement of the 1st concerto really should be more fiery, but Lang Lang some how missed the fireworks in this movement.
Lang Lang, so far, has NOT established himself as a virtuoso of any specialty, much unlike his compatriot Yundi Li. Well, IMHV this is something that he should do right now. Let us hope that he is going to horn his musicality further with Beethoven's works.
He still needs more work in the classical repertoire, if he wishes to move higher in the performance arena among top pianists. And this album shows that he is fully capable of doing so, if he is bent on it.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)