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Customer Review

on 24 August 2008
Andras Schiff's splendid traversal of the Beethoven piano concerto cycle is definitely one worth owning. His performances are richly steeped in lyricism and poetic beauty. They are also steeped in the fiery dramatic tension that I've come to expect from the likes of Arrau and Kempff. Of the current crop of distinguished pianists, Schiff is the only one who comes close to scaling the emotional heights shown by Arrau and Kempff. His transcendant performances are as good as those of Kovacevich and Perahia too. Unlike Perahia, Schiff is better at stressing the lyrical qualities of the piano, though it lacks some of the emotional intensity and drama that I've heard with Perahia's Sony cycle with Haitink conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra. For example, Schiff's performances of the 4th and 5th piano concerti are among the most lyrical I have yet heard. Speaking of Haitink, his conducting of the Dresden Staatskapelle is exemplary, and is comparable to his excellent work with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. However, due to Teldec's state of the art digital recording, the sound quality is substantially better. Most noteworthy are the fine performances of the woodwind and string sections. If you are looking for one superb Beethoven piano concerto cycle, then this has to be it. Otherwise, it belongs on the shelf with the exceptional cycles of Kempff, Arrau (either with Haitink or Davis conducting, though I give the nod to Davis), Kovacevich and Perahia.
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