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Beethoven: Piano Concertos 3 & 4 / Fleisher, Szell, Et Al

Release Date: 08/01/2006 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 78767   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Leon Fleisher
Conductor:  George Szell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Excellently remixed and remastered for their first CD incarnation in 1987, the 1959-61 Fleisher/Szell Beethoven concerto collaborations subsequently appeared in Sony's Essential Classics budget line in even better sound. Sony now refurbishes the Third and Fourth concertos for its Great Performances series. Sonically speaking, spatial depth and timbral definition remain the same, but with less tape hiss and more amplitude and impact this time around. More importantly, the performances proudly retain their reference status. This is vibrant and virile music making full of passionate sweep, arresting clarity, and genuine, chamber-like give and take between soloist and orchestra.

Like his teacher and mentor Artur Schnabel,
Read more Fleisher underlines Beethoven's harmonic tension by either distending or slightly speeding up certain runs and arpeggiated sequences, yet rarely at the expense of accuracy (the Fourth Concerto finale's rapid left-hand figurations are uncommonly clear), although he's not one to slave over making every long trill perfectly even and tapered. Under George Szell's eagle-eye, the Cleveland Orchestra members achieve staggering unanimity in regard to articulation and marcato phrasing, but with more heart and singing impulse than in Szell's relatively stiffer Beethoven accompaniments for Emil Gilels eight years later.

Obviously there are other valid ways to approach these works, from Kempff's intimate colorations to Arrau's heftier, cosmically-scaled conceptions, while recent entries like Bronfman/Zinman (Arte Nova) match Fleisher/Szell's salient virtues with the advantage of modern engineering. Still, I expect Sony will bring out this landmark cycle's three remaining concertos, and hopefully not forget the wonderful Fleisher/Szell Mozart C major K. 503.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Leon Fleisher (Piano)
Conductor:  George Szell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/14/1961 
Venue:  Severance Hall, Cleveland 
Length: 33 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Leon Fleisher (Piano)
Conductor:  George Szell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/10/1959 
Venue:  Severance Hall, Cleveland 
Length: 32 Minutes 9 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Szell/Fleisher: Powerful Yet Delicate October 28, 2016 By owen  ryan (lakewood, CA) See All My Reviews "As Penguin Guide stated '' Leon Fleisher partnered by George Szell, is both powerful and intense.'' Yet there are moments of delicacy and beauty, as in the Third's Largo, such that it could cause a marble statue to weep. These are renditions that stand among the best. In my estimation Szell is one of the very best conductors and Fleisher is surely one of the finest home grown (USA) pianist of our time. Despite an overall good remastering of these older recordings their age shows through at times but the Szell/Fleisher fusion produces such near magical results that you will probably not notice those small inadequacies. Highly recommended." Report Abuse
 Perfect June 6, 2012 By R. Larsen (St. Charles, IL) See All My Reviews "This is what classical music is all about." Report Abuse
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