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Piano Concertos 4 & 5: Emperor Import, Original recording remastered

15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, Original recording remastered, March 13, 2001
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Piano Concertos 4 & 5: Emperor + Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 4 and 5 (Emperor)
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 13, 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B000051YD6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,280 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By D. R. Schryer on July 13, 2002
Format: Audio CD
The Emperor Concerto probably is supposed to be the main attraction on this CD, and the performance of it presenteed here is laudable. But for me the lovely 4th is the most beautiful of the Beethoven Piano Concertos and this performance by Claudio Arrau and Sir Colin Davis is special. It is, quite simply, the most beautiful performance of this uniquely lyrical concerto that I have ever heard. Yes, the tempos are somewhat slower than usual, but this allows Arrau and Davis to bring out all the subtle glories of this very special masterpiece. There are many fine performances of the exhuberant Emperor Concerto available but few pianists and conductors -- even among the most famous -- seem capable of understanding and presenting the gentler beauties contained in the 4th concerto. Arrau and Davis have captured and presented these exquisite beauties better than any other pianist and conductor. If you love the gentler side of Beethoven -- or just great piano music -- I beg you to get this CD and listen to it with open ears. You will be amply rewarded.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAME on March 29, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I strongly commend Philips for reissuing these recordings and putting them on one CD. Without question, these are two of the finest performances of Beethoven's last two piano concerti. Arrau gives two great performances. He is at his soulful best in the fourth concerto, playing with much warmth and tenderness, especially in the second and third movements. Yet his performance of the fifth is just as compelling; I would say that it is quite possibly one of the three finest recordings of the "Emperor" concerto that I've heard, alongside Perahia's splendid performance recorded by CBS/Sony Classical with Bernard Haitink conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Stephen Kovacevich accompanied by Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra on a Philips recording that may no longer be available here in the United States. Speaking of Sir Colin Davis, he conducts the Dresden Staatskapelle with much warmth, without getting in the way of Arrau's lyrical pyrotechnics on the piano. The Dresden's flawless playing is as warm as the Berlin Staatskapelle's wonderful performances of the entire Beethoven symphony cycle conducted by Daniel Barenboim, their music director. Hopefully Phillips will reissue the other three concerti in the Arrau/Davis/Dresden Staatskapelle cycle soon.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Pupil on October 29, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Claudio Arrau was one of those rare musicians who possessed a spiritual and emotional depth so vast, so natural and so spontaneous that he was capable of allowing music as eternal as these Beethoven concertos to speak freely and sincerely through his fingertips.

Here, there is a complete lack of effort or concern, an open and natural absence of shovanistic artistry and interpretation. One only hears the majesty of Beethoven's music, and feels the security of being led by musicians speaking from the heart.

Sir Colin Davis provides an extraordinarily sympathetic and lustre accompaniment and the sound is as full and as warm as a Caribbean breeze.

I return to these recordings often. I feel that they are limitless and speak universally, and I would like to take this opportunity to recommend them to everyone.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By laguna_greg on April 4, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Claudio Arrau recorded these Beethoven concerti while in his early 80's. Having played these pieces all his life, his readings here are something of a backward, departing glance after much time spent in their company.

This is most obvious in the 4th concerto. Arrau plays the 1st movement a tick or two slower than he probably did earlier in his life and, certainly, slower than his contemporaries. This choice seems initially to let the air out of the tires a bit while exposing greater beauties further on in the solo part. The leisurely pace is not without pitfalls, however, as a slower tempo poses a greater problem for the orchestra than the piano. The instrumental textures are quite thick and, when played too slowly, it is very easy for the orchestral part to lose its sense of line. Colin Davis does everything he can to support Arrau's singular vision of this movement, and I'm happy to say that he succeeds for the most part. He makes a wonderful ensemble when playing with Arrau, getting out of his way so the piano can really have its say. Arrau avoids the temptation to be rhythmically fussy or tortured, as I've sometimes heard him do in other pieces of the same period. Here he is lyrical and wistful, but thankfully not mawkish or sentimental. The cadenza comes off as more reflective than virtuosic, although there are moments of genuine fire. While I prefer more brio myself, Arrau's choice here argues convincingly for a slightly different approach.

The 2nd and 3rd movements are more conventionally drawn and wonderfully played. The andante is a somber dialogue, the piano pleading with a grim and resolute orchestra. The rondo finale is sprightly and rhythmic with a great variety of touch and expression.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sancho Laurentis on March 28, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Both recordings have satisfied me enormously. I find these performances so alluring that I have returned to them more often that I care to remember. What a masterly way of coming home for superb musicians like Arrau and Davis. Most rewarding seems to be the maturity, depthness, pause and authority of delivery, from both Arrau and Davis. Sound quality is first class as well. I recall that these recordings, along with the rest of the cycle, won the 1989 Japan Record Academy Award.
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