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Karajan Collection - Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 4, Triple Concerto / Weissenberg, Richter, Rostropovich, Oistrakh

Release Date: 08/16/2005 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 4768862   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alexis WeissenbergSviatoslav RichterMstislav RostropovichDavid Oistrakh
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Herbert von Karajan asked to meet Alexis Weissenberg in 1967, after hearing the pianist play in a film version of Pétroushka. Karajan decided that they should play the Tchaikovsky concerto together. Annotator Mike Ashman tells what happened at the rehearsals: “A leading member of the orchestra says that during these sessions Karajan made certain suggestions to Weissenberg concerning tempi and dynamics which the pianist appeared not to have heard. When the conductor repeated these, the pianist still did not comply. A break was taken. With no agreement having been reached, Weissenberg asked for a taxi to take him back to his hotel.” Evidently Karajan, who never seemed this flexible, or as possibly charming, to me before, was impressed Read more with rather than offended by his erstwhile collaborator’s stubbornness. Later, when the two were asked who decides the tempi in a concerto performance, Karajan replied, “When a concerto starts with the piano, the piano leads; when the orchestra starts, I lead.”

Well, that sounds like a recipe for discord, but Weissenberg turned out to be a favorite collaborator, and the one pianist with whom Karajan wanted to record all the Beethoven concertos. He did so after EMI weaned him from his DGG contract. (The negotiations were “incredibly difficult,” according to EMI, and the aftermath not uncomplicated: when the orchestra gathered together to make the Triple Concerto, a Deutsche Grammophon representative, there for who knows what reason, advised the crew to set up the sections in some peculiar way that had to be undone.) The results were and are magnificent. The recordings sound better than the DGG records that preceded them, and the collaboration between the virtuosic conductor and his equally virtuosic and strong-willed pianist seems as sensitive as it is bold and dramatic. In the Fourth Concerto, where of course Weissenberg gets to set the tempo, Karajan’s Berlin Philharmonic seems to breathe, or in the slow movement, hold its breath, with Weissenberg. They emerge from the slow movement in a manner both gentle and precise. They are coming out of a cave in to the sun, which they soon celebrate in a joyous outburst. It is perhaps unnecessary that this pianist and this orchestra play brilliantly together. They also play with grace and delicacy. A contemporary reviewer evidently called their collaboration cold. I can’t understand that criticism, at least of the concerto recordings found here.

The first of all the EMI recordings was the Triple Concerto, made in 1969 with the Russian trio of Richter, Oistrakh, and Rostropovich. I don’t particularly admire Rostropovich playing Beethoven sonatas, but in this (to me) problematic concerto, the upfront, emotional playing of the cellist and of Oistrakh is welcome. It seems to enliven a piece that can seem something like a grand stunt. Evidently, Richter wasn’t happy during these sessions. When the others listened intently to playbacks, he went for walks. He plays beautifully, though with restraint. These two discs bring back four wonderful recordings. The sound is generally excellent, with a broad and deep stage. Sometimes, when things get loud, there is a slight grittiness in the strings that is not particularly bothersome.

-- Michael Ullman, FANFARE [1/2006]
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg (Piano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1974 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 33 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Concerto for Piano, Violin and Cello in C major, Op. 56 "Triple Concerto" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter (Piano), Mstislav Rostropovich (Cello), David Oistrakh (Violin)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1969 
Venue:  Jesus Christ's Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 36 Minutes 30 Secs. 

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