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on 26 March 2013
I bought this box set solely for the reissue of the long-deleted recording of Henze Concerto (once sold for outrageous price on ebay), but found other great performances in it. The slow movements of Beethoven's Concerto No.3 and Emperor Concerto, for example, I haven't come across such beautiful performances for a long time. Paced in just right tempi, the music glows in sublime serenity. In the outer movements too, Eschenbach's playing radiates poetical beauty and class without compromising technical brilliance.

Schubert Sonatas are just fine. His account of Chopin's Op.28 Preludes is one of the worst I've heard. There is no coherence nor relationship between each prelude and some of the preludes are played with cloying sentimentality (Prelude No.17 in Ab for example). Schumann's Kinderszenen is played beautifully until the last piece Der Dichter spricht, in which case he plays it as if the piece is a mere continuation from the rest, completely missing the point that this last movement is about reflection and contemplation on what proceeded.

Despite a few interpretative oddities, there is a lot to appreciate in this box set, not to mention the superb performance of Henze's 2nd concerto. It deserves at least 4 stars.
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on 31 March 2015
Unusually for a super bargain issue the booklet is excellent. It contains a couple of quotes from the Gramophone reviewer who first kindled my interest in Romantic piano works, the late lamented Joan Chissell. I particularly like the one on the B flat sonata of Schubert 'Eschenbach takes Schubert a little too far out of this world into the next'. BBC CD Review recently accorded first place to the A major sonata. Interestingly a major factor was the superiority of 1770s recording quality to what we have been given subsequently. I bought the box for this and am not disappointed. It really does rival the Columbia recording by Rudolf Serkin but I have also bought a recent transfer of that in the hope they have made the sound less wooden than on my current CD transfer. The Schubert and Beethoven sonatas may not be easy listening when done with such intensity by Eschenbach but they are hugely rewarding.
The Schumann is also well done. I find a whole set of Chopin preludes rather intimidating to sit through at one go but I found these nicely differentiated and given with more weight than I have become used to.
The Beethoven and Henze concertos returned me to more comfortable listening. I see some Amazon reviewers particularly like the Emperor but I was not always sure pianist and conductor had fully agreed on tempi. No such issues in number 3 where Eschenbach and Henze clearly see eye to eye. I share the enthusiasm of others for the Henze concerto. If you like the Brahms and Busoni concertos you should love this.
From the box cover you could get the impression that one CD of avant garde music had invaded the set. But it is the Schubert and Beethoven sonatas which take me out of my comfort zone.
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