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Piano Concertos 3 & 4

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 1, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

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Performances of Beethoven's piano concertos on "authentic" instruments depend heavily on the tonal qualities of the fortepiano. One reason Beethoven sounds so terrific on a modern piano is that he imagined his music for as large an instrument as he could get his hands on--and as long as the performer scales his tone to the capacity of his piano, a piece will work. But choose an instrument with too puny a sound, and the result doesn't bear listening to. Jos van Immerseel has selected for these performances a fortepiano with a lovely, full tone that preserves the clarity we've come to expect from period instruments, but which isn't dwarfed by the music. His sparkling playing completes a totally successful release. --David Hurwitz

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Concerto For Piano And ORchestra No.3 In C Minor, Op.37: I. Allegro moderato
  2. Concerto For Piano And ORchestra No.3 In C Minor, Op.37: II. Largo
  3. Concerto For Piano And ORchestra No.3 In C Minor, Op.37: II Rondo. Allegro
  4. Concerto For Piano And Orchestra No.4 In G Major, Op.58: I. Allegro moderato
  5. Concerto For Piano And Orchestra No.4 In G Major, Op.58: II. Andante con moto
  6. Concerto For Piano And Orchestra No.4 In G Major, Op.58: III. Rondo. Vivace


Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 1, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0000029UO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,768 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Larry VanDeSande VINE VOICE on March 2, 2007
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Opposite their collaboration on the Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 by Beethoven, fortepianist Jos von Immerseel uses Beethoven's cadenzas in this recording, made in the middle 1990s. Immerseel also uses a 19th century instrument by Johann Nepomuk Trondlin of Leipzig that was restored in Antwerp in 1996, probably just before this recording was made. The instrument has a cleaner action than the one he used in Concertos 1 & 2 with marginally less period sound.

That said, these performances are not only more closely aligned with traditional Beethoven piano concerto performances, they are quite excellent. While Immerseel and Tafelmusik produce what I would call a solid recording of Piano Concerto No. 3, the jewel of this CD is the Piano Concerto No. 4, where Immerseel displays a nearly magical touch in the quieter moments contrasted by almost Elgarian passion and dignity in the final movement, where I have never heard better period keyboard playing.

Tafelmusik, with its somewhat sour-sounding strings and period instruments, is nevertheless right there with the soloist all the way through. I assume the sour sound comes from instrumental tuning to the period era and not from poor playing, for the orchestra members shine brightly during their various solo moments.

Jeanne Lamon is perfectly attuned to Immerseel's approach and supports him well, aside from a nearly martial tutti beginning the slow movement of Concerto 4 on both sides of the solo entry. Immerseel is equally memorable in the slow movement of Concerto 3, with exquisite sensitivity built around Beetoven's complex voicing. Sony's outstanding, wide-ranging and spacious sound fills out this installment of Beethoven's concertos.
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By A Customer on February 19, 2004
Beethoven's 4th concerto is one of the most under-represented of his great works, and deserves more attention. I am glad to see this on the market.
Some people love period instruments and some feel quite hostile. I happen to like them, especially handled skillfully live, when a spectator has a perfect "aural view" of the overall sound. Well, we are lucky to have both, and this recording is from the other side. I have owned this recording for several years and have listened to it scores of times.
This particular recording is good, but not excellent. The sound I expect from period instruments chiming, sawing and piping away, leading to audience to understand something long-untranslated in the music, a musical sort of rosetta stone, is NOT clearly represented here. Rather than the delicate vibrato of thin reeds, "unpolished" and hand-shaped brass, loose bows breathing against strings, and a woody throatiness in the winds, you simply hear a dimmed down version of a modern orchestra. I suspect this is due to insufficient or badly placed mics, and a muddy reverb in the hall.
I triple-checked: Tafelmusik uses real period (and reconstructed) instruments. Although the pedigree is right, we get the almost inbred "uber" sound that we hear with modern instruments and orchestras, albeit slightly muddied and dimmed in the recording's soundscape.
The solo piano sounds quite like a pianoforte, delicate, responsive and more "real", ironically facilitating a more "fantastic" performance. You will be aware, even with Immerseel's competent handling, and Tafelmusik's steady, controlled treatment; the dynamics of this instrument are less than those of a modern piano.
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Like one of the reviewers who preceded me here, I think this disc is more successful than its companion that features the Concertos Nos. 1 and 2. For one, there's more enthusiasm in the No. 3 than was in evidence in the No. 2 and certainly the No. 1. For another, the cadenzas work this time around. My only quibble is that the delicate parts of the Concerto No. 4 seem not that delicate. For an original instrument integral cycle of these concertos, I still prefer Steven Lubin's team-up withe Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music. Not that these performances are bad -- I like them, truth to tell, just not as much as the Lubin/Hogwood ones.
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