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Beethoven: Piano Concertos, Choral Fantasy, Diabelli Variations / Katchen, Gamba


Release Date: 05/15/2007 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 000886602   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Julius Katchen
Conductor:  Piero Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraLondon Symphony Chorus
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Contrary to Decca's cover sticker, this release does not quite encompass all of Julius Katchen's Beethoven recordings. The Op. 126 Bagatelles and Appassionata sonata are absent, along with the pianist's stereo Diabelli Variations and Op. 111 sonata remakes. However, we have the latter two selections in earlier mono versions, both of which recently appeared in Decca's Original Masters Katchen box. For musical reasons, I'm compelled to recommend the mono Diabelli's less hectic fast tempos and superior transitional fluency, although I can't resist the more glib stereo traversal's unbridled virtuosic panache.

Katchen's Beethoven Concerto cycle faced serious competition from the more stylish yet utterly different Kempff/Leitner,
Read more Arrau/Haitink, and Fleisher/Szell sets. It still does from a sonic standpoint, since Decca's boomy resonance lacks the rival versions' relatively compact sonority and sharpness of detail. Furthermore, Katchen does not always address the linear specificity and harmonic awareness of his erstwhile competitors--yet what crisp, untrammeled, and utterly masterful finger-work, notably in the G major and Emperor concertos' taxing double notes and long chains of trills!

Katchen's Choral Fantasy was one of the more desirable versions of its time, boasting excellent first-desk solo playing in the variations. Incidentally, Katchen, like Brendel, adds a flourish in the opening bar in order to make the measure metrically correspond to its neighbors. Perhaps the seldom-heard C major Polonaise benefits most from Katchen's extroverted personality and bravura instincts: in other words, it's a knock-out! In all, Decca's budget price and space-saving packaging will entice Katchen fans who missed previous CD incarnations of their hero's Beethoven.

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

1.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Conductor:  Piero Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Conductor:  Piero Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793/1798; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Conductor:  Piero Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Conductor:  Piero Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Conductor:  Piero Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Rondo for Piano and Orchestra in B flat major, WoO 6 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Conductor:  Piero Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1794; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Fantasia in C minor, Op. 80 "Choral Fantasy" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Conductor:  Piero Gamba
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Variations (33) for Piano on a Waltz by Diabelli in C major, Op. 120 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1819-1823; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Polonaise for Piano in C major, Op. 89 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1814; Vienna, Austria 
10.
Sonata for Piano no 32 in C minor, Op. 111 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Julius Katchen (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821-1822; Vienna, Austria 

Sound Samples

Piano Concerto No.1 in C major, Op.15: 1. Allegro con brio
Piano Concerto No.1 in C major, Op.15: 2. Largo
Piano Concerto No.1 in C major, Op.15: 3. Rondo (Allegro scherzando)
Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major, Op.19: 1. Allegro con brio
Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major, Op.19: 2. Adagio
Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major, Op.19: 3. Rondo (Molto allegro)
Rondo in B flat for piano & orchestra, WoO6
Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.37: 1. Allegro con brio
Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.37: 2. Largo
Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.37: 3. Rondo (Allegro)
Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat major Op.73 -"Emperor": 1. Allegro
Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat major Op.73 -"Emperor": 2. Adagio un poco mosso
Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat major Op.73 -"Emperor": 3. Rondo (Allegro)

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Virile, Explosive Fantasia, Energetic And Strong  August 21, 2012 By David Rink (TEL AVIV, ISRAEL) See All My Reviews "I have had the vinyl LP'S of these performances since my high-school days in the mid-60's and practically no interpreters of these Beethoven works display the drive, boldness & strength which this music requires for a convincing performance. Sound is of it's era - this is not a serious drawback - when the performances are so satisfying. No modern recording of the Choral Fantasia fulminates with the electricity & energy of Katchen/LSO/Gamba, refinement of recording technique notwithstanding. This set is a real treasure of artistic and monetary value !! Buy it with confidence. DR." Report Abuse
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