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Bartok: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 - 3 [Original recording remastered]

Bela Bartok , Esa-Pekka Salonen , Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra , Yefim Bronfman Audio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Price: $8.98 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 9 Songs, 2001 $9.99  
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Bartok: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 - 3 + Piano Sonatas Nos.  2, 3, 5 & 9
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Product Details

  • Performer: Yefim Bronfman
  • Orchestra: Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen
  • Composer: Bela Bartok
  • Audio CD (September 11, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B00005NWO0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,951 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Con No.2: I. Allegro
2. Con No.2: II. Adagio - Presto - Adagio
3. Con No.2: III. Allegro Molto
4. Con No.3: I. Allegretto
5. Con No.3: II. Adagio Religioso - Poco Piu Mosso - Tempo I
6. Con No.3: III. Allegro Vivace
7. Con No.1: I. Allegro Moderato - Allegro - Allegro Moderato
8. Con No.1: II. Andante
9. Con No.1: III. Allegro Molto

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding value March 28, 2002
Format:Audio CD
Summary for busy individuals: Pro - outstanding performances by soloist and orchestra; tough to beat for 8 bucks. Con - sub-par sound engineering.
Details: These are truly wonderful performances of Bartok's great piano concertos; but if you have other recordings of these pieces, you may be disappointed with the overall sound balance. Bartok's orchestral works require a high level of virtuosity from the soloist and orchestra. I enjoy these works more when the often-delicate interplay between the pianist and individual orchestra members is more clearly captured.
To appreciate the difference, you will need to spend a few more dollars to purchase the Peter Donohue/Simon Rattle digital recording (EMI 7 54871 2) where you will easily hear details which are oft-times rather muddled on the Sony disc, particularly during more frantic segments of "Allegro" movements in the first and second concertos. Following along with a copy of the score will help even more. They did a bit better during the slower-paced, lower level second movements; but it's not what I would expect from "24-bit technology...used to maximize sound recording" (as described in the liner credits).
My guess is that they didn't do their homework analyzing the acoustics of the chosen recording sites. They wisely chose to avoid the sonically questionable Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, heading to Long Beach for 1 & 3 and UCLA's Royce Hall for #2. Of these, the second concerto (which starts the disc) sounds best to me. Maybe they let interns set up the mikes and run the mixer - hard to say, but the rather distant sound doesn't do justice to these remarkable performances. Makes you wish they would have sub-contracted recording to a crew from Telarc, EMI or London.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fima and Salonen -- an exciting, high-energy cycle! November 5, 2001
Format:Audio CD
This is an exciting cycle of Bartok's three piano concertos from Yefim (Fima) Bronfman and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by Esa-Pekka Salonen, and recorded in 1993/1994. This was the first recording of these works that I heard, back in 2001, and I have been taken with it ever since. Only now (9/3/13), having heard other recordings, can I appreciate just how great these performances are -- the most exciting I have yet to discover.

The sound is not all it could be -- it seems a bit thin and pinched. But this is no reason not to enjoy the thrills, which result partly because of a faster tempo, and partly due to Fima's exuberant playing. He makes me laugh with pure joy throughout these performances!

An excellent alternative to this disc is the 1996 recording of Andras Schiff and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, led by Ivan Fischer for Warner. The all-Hungarian team plays Bartok with a more elegant, stately, flair. Schiff's tone is superb, and the sound of the orchestra is fuller, more reverberant, and more detailed than this Sony disc. Schiff makes the difficult Bartok sound easy, but he has said of the popular Second Concerto: "[f]or the piano player, it's a finger-breaking piece. [It] is probably the single most difficult piece that I have ever played, and I usually end up with a keyboard covered by blood."

As Stravinsky so wisely said long ago, alternative interpretations of a score bring out all its potential. I for one would not want to be without Fima's high-energy recordings, but Schiff makes a great contrast.

Maurizio Pollini recorded the
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
As Harris Goldsmith states in the 4-page essay that accompanies this CD, "Bela Bartok's works for piano and orchestra have an authority and individuality that bespeak first-hand knowledge and experience. Present-day musicians tend to forget that the Hungarian master was one of this century's greatest pianists - a keyboard virtuoso of incandescent brilliance as well as a unique, creative genius. Most of what he composed for the piano was tailored to fit his own persona and larger-than-life instrumental gifts."

There are a number of excellent recordings of these three great piano concertos, made by some of the most talented pianists in the world, from the benchmark 1961 recording by Bartok's Hungarian compatriot, Geza Anda, to more recent releases by other Hungarian pianists, Zoltan Kocsis, Jeno Jando, and Andras Schiff, to recordings by Martha Argerich and Sviatoslav Richter among others. In the end, selecting a favorite interpretation is ultimately a matter of nuances and individual preference.

Regarding the comments by the reviewer, Robert Estes, about the sound engineering on this CD, perhaps if a Telarc-like crystal-clear bright sound had been attempted on these three dynamic and powerful concertos, it might have yielded a sonic impression that would not necessarily be "front-row-center" but rather "in-your-face," with the listener rushing to adjust the volume control with each change from an allegro to an adagio movement, and back again. In fact, that is essentially the experience I had after following Mr. Estes' recommendation and ordering the recording of these concertos by Peter Donohoe, with Simon Rattle conducting.
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