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Triple Concerto / Choral Fantasy / Rondo in B Flat

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Audio CD, October 12, 2004
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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Triple Concerto in C major Op.56 : I AllegroNikolaus Harnoncourt18:18$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Triple Concerto in C major Op.56 : II LargoNikolaus Harnoncourt 4:38$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Triple Concerto in C major Op.56 : III Ronda alla PolaccaNikolaus Harnoncourt13:20$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Rondo in B flat major WoO6Nikolaus Harnoncourt 8:35$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Choral Fantasia in C minor Op.80 : I AdagioNikolaus Harnoncourt 3:37$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Choral Fantasia in C minor Op.80 : II FinaleNikolaus Harnoncourt15:51$1.29  Buy MP3 

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 12, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B0002W3EDG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,452 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Here's an inspired appendage to the Aimard-Harnoncourt set of the Beethoven Piano Concertos. When new, the Triple Concerto, combining three solo instruments with orchestra, was considered a bold new type of concerto. That's how it's played here. The solo trio blends nicely with the orchestra, giving the work a chamber music dimension. Once past the slow introduction, Harnoncourt conducts a vigorous, almost rhapsodic performance, with great forward momentum. But the honors go to the outstanding soloists. Aimard etches the piano line with exceptional clarity, Hagen, the cellist of the Hagen Quartet, plays with gorgeous tone, while violinist Zehetmair, who also leads a quartet bearing his name, almost steals the show through his agile playing and phrasing that cuts to the heart of the music. I know of no better performance of this work. The Choral Fantasy too comes off as more than a weird combination of a solo piano fantasia and a choral sketch for the last movement of the Ninth Symphony. And pianist and orchestra play the daylights out of the quirky Rondo in B-flat major. --Dan Davis

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 24, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I have to go back a while to recall a truly memorable performance of the Beethoven Triple Concerto I've either heard as a recording or live performance. The finest recording I've heard until now was an absolutely rhapsodic, vibrant interpretation with the Beaux Arts Trio and Bernard Haitink conducting the London Philharmonic. However, this new Warner Classics recording is quite simply the most daring, exciting performance of the Beethoven Triple Concerto I have heard with graceful, lyrical playing from pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, coupled with fiery performances from cellist Clemens Hagen and violinist Thomas Zehetmair, which revel in the then novelty offered by Beethoven's composition when it was introduced in the early 1800s. Nikolaus Harnoncourt leads the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in yet another spirited, dramatic performance of a Beethoven concerto without overwhelming the remarkable performances of these three splendid soloists. Without question, it is an excellent coda to the Aimard's Beethoven piano concerto cycle released earlier on Teldec, now Warner Classics. To their credit, both Aimard and the orchestra play the Rondo with ample gusto. Together, they offer yet another amazing performance in the Choral Fantasy, demonstrating that it too is a revolutionary work composed by Beethoven, and not merely, a rough sketch for his 9th Symphony's fourth movement. This splendid recording, blessed with exceptional sound quality, will please fans of Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. I strongly concur with The New York Times's assessment of this recording as among the finest classical music recordings of 2004.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 27, 2006
Format: Audio CD
In his cycle of Beethoven symphonies Harnonourt's conducting was aggressive, often aburpt, unnerving, and challenging to absorb. For some reason he drops all that in his recording of the Triple Concerto and Choral Fantasy. There have been excellent virtouoso readings of the Triple recently with Barenboim and Argerich as pianist. They show more intensity than this quiet-voiced, almost classical version. There's no doubt that the soloists, particularly Aimard, are wonderufl players, but it takes a while for the first movement to catch fire. Every time Aimard is given room to expand, he's brought back down to earth by the more restained Hagen on cello. (To the reviewers below who unanimously proclaim 'best ever,' I can only point to the unsurpassed version under Karajan with Richter, Oistrakh, and Rostropovich, a towering recording.)

In the Choral Fantasy there is an impassioned performance from Bernstein and Rudolf Serkin from the Sixties (Sony), as well as a fine one from Barenboim as both conductor and soloist, in concert with the Berlin Phil. on EMI. By comparison, Aimard is unusually cautious--he prefers restraint over the free-wheeling and totally thrilling spontaneity of Serkin. Harnoncourt remains just as restrained, so despite the all-around excellence of the performers, I can't see this one being anywhere near a first choice.

In sum, both readings fall somewhere in the middle of the pack but are enjoyable and more than competent in all espects. Fine recorded sound, by the way.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Discophage TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 26, 2010
Format: Audio CD
A number of distinguishing features mark out this version of the Triple Concerto and make it one that stands out.

Harnoncourt's freedom of phrasing. Just try the opening theme, played by cellos and double basses. Everybody else takes it "in time", keeping a steady beat during the bars of silence that separate the elements of that opening theme; Not Harnoncourt. He slightly delays his beats, giving the impression that the opening phrases are freely sung - or rather, hummed, or even whispered - by the orchestra, in a quasi-improvisatory manner.

The clarity of the orchestra's inner voicing. Try the viola and cello triplets at 1:14; the various instrumental strands are always clearly heard, woodwinds usually not covered (there are spots though in the first movement where you won't hear them if you don't have the score to tell you that they are playing). The balance between the orchestra and the soloists is perfect.

There is nothing radical in Harnoncourt's choices of tempos, on the contrary: they are all middle-of-the-road and well within tradition. He takes an easy-going view (his first movement is more expansive than Karajan's for instance, Triple Concerto / Double Concerto), feeling very natural, genial, if not laid-back. He doesn't quite attain the sublime beauty of Karajan's time-suspended Largo, but this is something you hear only on comparative listening.

Another one of Harnoncourt's distinguishing marks, he can be robust in the tutti, with forceful horns and trumpets, which lends the music an added dynamism and muscularity. He offers a shrine in which the soloists' lyricism and playful interplay can freely unfold.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Saemann VINE VOICE on May 21, 2008
Format: Audio CD
The first thing to note about the performance of the Triple Concerto is the sonic perspective. Harnoncourt divides the violins to left and right, with cellos slightly left of center, while the sound engineering places the piano trio in among the orchestra, rather than spotlighting the soloists. This technique is unusual among recordings of this piece. I have an LP of it with the Beaux Arts Trio and Bernard Haitink in which the trio someimes drowns out the orchestra. As for the performance, Harnoncourt's work is thrilling. This is probably the best conducted performance of the piece I've ever heard. The soloists don't match the Oistrakh-Richter-Rostropovich performance, but they are certainly very good. The Choral Fantasy is given an excellent performance overall. Once again, Harnoncourt's direction is vigorous and incisive, while Aimard shows that his earlier recording of Beethoven's Appasionata Sonata was no fluke. Aimard plays with vigor and imagination, and a big tone. There are certain bars in the piece where I prefer the interpretation of Rudolf Serkin with Leonard Bernstein, but this newer version loses very little in comparison with that classic reading. There have been excellent digital recordings of the Triple Concerto by the Eroica Trio and the Moscow Trio, but anyone wanting the current coupling need not hesitate.
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