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Bart¢k: Piano Concertos 1-3 CD

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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Genre: Classical Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Rating:
Release Date: 11-JAN-2005

Amazon.com

Pierre Boulez, always a sympathetic conductor of Bartók’s music, here leads three different orchestras and three different soloists in a highly recommendable disc of the composer's complete piano concertos. The First is a jagged, percussive piece reminiscent of Bartók's earlier Dance Suite in its driving rhythms. Like the Second Concerto's, the slow movement is one of his typically mysterious "night" pieces, with lightly tapping percussion accompanying the piano's ghostly entry and winds adding to the otherworldly effect in the central section. Soloist Krystian Zimerman plays it magnificently. The Second Concerto is no less challenging, but scored more transparently with Baroque-inspired counterpoint. Again, propulsive rhythms excite, and Leif Ove Andsnes sails through the virtuosic solo part with aplomb. Bartók wrote the first two to feature on his concert tours. The Third Concerto was written by the dying composer in 1945 as a legacy for his wife, a concert pianist. It's one of his most lyrical, relaxed works with long-lined melodies and often lush scoring. Here the pianist is Hélène Grimaud, playing with tonal beauty, poetic flair, and the requisite toughness for the final Allegro. With its superb soloists and orchestras and Boulez's consistency, this disc is a Bartókian feast. --Dan Davis
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Product Details

  • Performer: Krystian Zimerman, Lief Ove Andsnes, Helene Grimaud
  • Orchestra: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Pierre Boulez
  • Composer: Bela Bartok
  • Audio CD (January 11, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B0006OS5YS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,801 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 8, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Whoever had the idea to have a noted Bartók conductor, Pierre Boulez, record all three of the Bartók piano concertos, using a different soloist and orchestra for each one, should get a medal. Not only were the three soloists picked carefully (or, at least I imagine that's the case; who knows, maybe they were picked by playing paper/scissors/stone!) but the style of each of the three was matched, more or less, to the sound produced by three of the world's greatest orchestras.

The lineup is this: Krystian Zimerman and the Chicago Symphony for No. 1; Leif Ove Andsnes and the Berlin Philharmonic for No. 2; and Hélène Grimaud and the London Symphony for No. 3. In the muscular No. 1 both the sound of Zimerman and the Chicago are perfect. Zimerman, not a pianist who is generally thought of as a brio player, is more than capable of the almost brutal style required in that first concerto, and of course the Chicago is a match made in heaven with their incredible brass and incisive strings. Andsnes is also a brilliant player but he has a slightly rounder tone in his performance, and that's precisely what is needed. Although the Second is similar to the First, it has more lyrical moments and much greater thematic distinction. Andsnes molds his part masterfully. But best of all is the playing of the BPO. In this concerto there is much that would remind one of the middle-period, more mature Bartók: less brutality, more mystery. Think of the string writing in, say, 'Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta' and you will have an idea of what I mean. The Berlin strings shimmer.

Bartók was dying when he wrote the Third and indeed it had to be finished by his student, Tibor Serly, who also finished the wonderful viola concerto.
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Format: Audio CD
It's interesting to observe the evolution of the playing of Bartok's Piano Concertos since its first recordings. When we hear the old performances of Geza Anda and Ferenc Fricsay we can feel the difficulty they had to manage the changes of tempi and,at this time, the coordination between soloist and orchestra was very problematic . As the first two Piano Concertos of Bartok are among the most interesting concertos of all time, the story of its performances is of great importance. One recording that changed consistently the way of playing Bartok's Concertos was the one of the first and the second concertos with Claudio Abbado and Maurizio Pollini (DG- 1979) .Twenty Six years after, with this new integral of the Three Concertos, we can feel one new improvement, specially in the performance of the First. Zimmerman and Boulez are superb in every measure of this fascinating music. I never heard before all these terrible changes of tempi and these complicated rhythms so well done. Al the accents of the soloist are echoed by the instruments of the orchestra. The "acellerandi" in the first and the third movements are a miracle of clarity .I have no difficulty to say that this is the best recording of the Bartok's First Piano Concerto I ever heard , even when compared with that of Abbado and Pollini and that with Boulez and Barenboin.
The second Concerto is very well recorded too. Leif Ove Andsnes is one excellent Pianist.But we can't avoid to compare . He isn't a pianist so perfect as Zimerman is. But his reading of this difficult work is very interesting too. After a First Movement played in a cautious way we have a surprise: the central part of the second movement is played with a fire and energy, and with a irresistible precision .
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Some years ago I read Pierre Boulez was thinking about recording Bartok's Piano Concertos, in that moment I thought it could be a good collection but not really so great like finally it is. I have to say that in a first moment I had news of a recording with Krystian Zimerman for the three concerts; when I knew Andsnes and Grimaud were involved I thought it could be not so great like if Zimerman alone plays all. I was wrong again in my thoughts; Andsnes and Grimaud give them best and that's really very much.

First of all I have to mention the fact of there are three orchestras and three pianists, all wonderful musicians, like the three outstanding orchestras. It could be a problem for unifying the cycle, but we have a great conductor too, Pierre Boulez, a really specialist master in XXth Century and modern music, who have a very long relation with Bartok's music, as we can listen in his recordings for CBS and now with the outstanding new cycle for DG (that will be followed by his new recordings of Violin Concert Nº1 and Viola Concert, both of them with Berlin and very close to be released). The three concertos are really different between them in essence, the First and Second much more modern and aggressive and the Third much more "classical", lyrical and popular, much more easy to be listened. It's the way of a composer with a life not easy at all, who have lost his own lie in his country and who have to compose in order to survive. This could be a reason for understand the style of the Third concerto; a concerto that could be very far of Boulez's tastes but conducted full of style and charm by the French conductor. In fact, this piano series comes from a very hard and aggressive beginning in number One and decrease in that presence until the Third.
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