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Beethoven: Die Klavierkonzerte, Etc / R. Serkin, R. Kubelik


Release Date: 06/28/2005 
Label:  Orfeo D'or Catalog #: 647053   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Rudolf Serkin
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony OrchestraBavarian Radio Chorus
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

For at least a half century Beethoven's piano concertos played a central role in Rudolf Serkin's repertoire. In 1941 he recorded the "Emperor" with Bruno Walter and the New York Philharmonic, and nearly a decade later he embarked on the full cycle with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Serkin's stereo remakes retained Ormandy in Nos. 1, 2, and 4, leaving Nos. 3 and 5 for Leonard Bernstein. Serkin essayed the cycle yet again in the early 1980s, this time with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony. Numerous broadcast airchecks, officially released and otherwise, also flesh out the picture. Yet out of all the Serkin Beethoven concerto cycles on disc, the present one, recorded over the course of three concerts in October Read more and November of 1977, offers the most consistent artistic and sonic satisfaction.

The slightly distant yet attractively robust engineering conveys a cogent sense of concert hall-realism, and not just to the benefit of Rafael Kubelik's superb Bavarian musicians. It also reveals Serkin's elusive, difficult-to-record sonority in more flattering, three-dimensional light than the gaunt, often monochrome impression one gleans from his Columbia Masterworks sessions. Furthermore, the recordings back up my memory of many live Serkin performances concerning the pianist's ability to specifically project and gauge his sound according to venue: in other words, to "play the acoustics" as well as play the instrument (this holds true of similarly "unphonogenic" pianists like Vladimir Horowitz and Alfred Brendel). As a result, the concentration and inner tension Serkin brings to the slow movements comes off with more warmth and sustaining power.

Although Serkin at 74 may not have been the impetuous, fiery virtuoso in the first three concertos' finales that he was in his 40s, when he recorded them for CBS Masterworks, his technique nevertheless is still assured, alert, and responsive, and far more energized than in his relatively careful and labored collaborations with Ozawa.

However, Serkin must have drunk from the fountain of youth before hitting the stage for the Choral Fantasy (Kubelik, too, for that matter). The performance radiates inspiration from start to finish, highlighted by Serkin's ardent yet cannily structured opening cadenza, the chamber episodes' zestful give and take, plus massed choral and orchestral tuttis that at once communicate elemental power and textural clarity. Let's hope this major addition to Serkin's discography will encourage Sony not to leave its own Serkin edition hanging.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Fantasia in C minor, Op. 80 "Choral Fantasy" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Rudolf Serkin (Piano)
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1977 
Venue:  Live  Herkules Hall, Residenz, Munich, Germany 
Language: German 
2. Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Rudolf Serkin (Piano)
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1977 
Venue:  Live  Herkules Hall, Residenz, Munich, Germany 
3. Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Rudolf Serkin (Piano)
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1977 
Venue:  Live  Herkules Hall, Residenz, Munich, Germany 
4. Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Rudolf Serkin (Piano)
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793/1798; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1977 
Venue:  Live  Herkules Hall, Residenz, Munich, Germany 
5. Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Rudolf Serkin (Piano)
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1977 
Venue:  Live  Herkules Hall, Residenz, Munich, Germany 
6. Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Rudolf Serkin (Piano)
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1977 
Venue:  Live  Herkules Hall, Residenz, Munich, Germany 

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