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Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 5, Choral Fantasy / Bronfman, Zinman

Release Date: 11/14/2006 
Label:  Arte Nova   Catalog #: 825850   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Yefim Bronfman
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Tonhalle OrchestraSwiss Chamber Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Are the Bronfman/Zinman Beethoven piano concertos the modern answer to Fleisher/Szell? It would seem so. When this cycle was issued originally in the mid-2000s the distribution situation with Arte Nova was just a tad questionable on these shores, and Sony/BMG were more of a mess than usual. So we were not able to review the entire series. Now the situation seems to have straightened out as regards availability, at least for now, with the entire cycle ready to hand not just as individual discs, but also in the huge Zinman “Great Symphonies” box (which these works obviously are not, but never mind).

Suffice it to say that Bonfman and Zinman’s “Emperor” remains at the same high level as
Read more the rest of the performances. Indeed, it’s the very consistency of the cycle that constitutes one of its most impressive features. Like Fleicher/Szell, these are taught, incisive, “classical” interpretations that nonetheless never minimize the music’s romantic fire. Bronfman’s playing throughout is stupendous. Listen to the independent articulation of the right and left hands in the first movement development section’s turbulent sequences for a telling example of first-rate Beethoven playing. There isn’t a note that does not sound purposeful or necessary. The Adagio is exactly “un poco mosso,” as Beethoven instructs, while the finale has tremendous gusto at an ideally propulsive tempo. It’s a great performance.

The choral works are equally compelling. The Choral Fantasy is such a strange piece–part concerto, part cantata, part sketch for the finale of the Ninth Symphony–and this performance is as cogent and festive as any on disc. There’s even room for a not-inconsiderable bonus in the form of the brief chorus Becalmed Sea and Prosperous Voyage. Note: it should not be “Calm Sea,” as we usually see it, since the entire point of the poem’s dark first half is the fear engendered by being stuck mid-ocean with no wind to fill the sails. The ship is “becalmed.” Anyway, the singing is as fresh and incisive as the orchestral playing, and the sonics are gorgeous.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Yefim Bronfman (Piano)
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
Fantasia in C minor, Op. 80 "Choral Fantasy" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Yefim Bronfman (Piano)
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra,  Swiss Chamber Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
Meerestille und glückliche Fahrt, Op. 112 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra,  Swiss Chamber Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1814-1815; Vienna, Austria 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 Middle of the pack August 17, 2013 By Jeffrey W. (Allendale, NJ) See All My Reviews "I purchased this CD because it contains two of my favorite Beethoven piano and orchestra works. The Emperor concerto is beyond compare, of course, and the Choral Fantasy is an underrated tryout for the final movement of the Symphony no. 9. I was not disappointed by the Bronfman/Zinman collaboration, but neither was I overly impressed, thus the 2 and a half (or 3) star rating. My favorite version of the Emperor (coupled with the 4th) which I have owned for a long time is by Claudio Arrau with Colin Davis and the Staatskapelle Dresden. Choosing an outstanding performance of the Choral fantasy is a little more difficult, and I have heard many. However, I have a vintage recording (coupled with the 3rd piano concerto) by Rudolf Serkin with Bernstein and NY Philharmonic that sounds very good to my ears." Report Abuse
 Clear sound November 17, 2012 By H. van Hal (NIJMEGEN, Netherlands) See All My Reviews "When you are searching for a clear piano-sound dominating the orchestra, you have to buy this version of the Piano-concertos of L.v.Beethoven. The quality of the recordings are also very nice. Enjoy this music !" Report Abuse
 enchanted May 21, 2012 By Connie W. (Denver, CO) See All My Reviews "I love classical music and listen to it regularly, but seldom do I actually pull over to the side of the road and just stop and listen to a piece. When I heard this on Colorado Public Radio one day, I did just that. I was totally entranced. Later, when I got home, I went online and bought the piece, but by a different soloist. It just wasn't the same. I ended up calling the station and to find out who had performed the piece I heard, then went on line and found the exact piece and bought it. I've listened to it many times already and continue to enjoy it immensely." Report Abuse
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