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Beethoven: Piano Concertos 4 & 5 / Curzon, Knappertsbusch

Release Date: 11/14/2000 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 467126   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Clifford Curzon
Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Curzon's "Emperor" seems to me one of the performances of our time. His playing is proficient, intelligent and discerning in the highest degree. For the most part he does what one hopes pianists will do (and so often they don't); elsewhere he transcends one's hopes, revealing new beauties outside one's previous experience. For instance at the end of the slow movement, he does not play the semiquavers in strict tempo "dead-pan" as most pianists do, but manages both to accompany the woodwind tune expressively and to phrase his notes across the beat; which is how Beethoven wanted them, though you would not suspect it from most performances. His energy in the finale is titanic, his pianissimo playing in the cadenza-like Read more passage near the end of the first movement is magical; he never puts a finger wrong.

This new version is not perfect. The piano is a shade too prominently balanced; perhaps, too, the orchestra plays too reticently in places. For instance, Beethoven must have meant the orchestra to be audible between bars fio and 200 in the first movement, or he would not have bothered to write those notes for it, but if players take his piano too literally, their parts will not tell against the pianist's forte. Generally speaking, the wind seem less favoured by the microphone than the strings. The orchestra produces radiant sounds, but ensemble is not impeccable in the slow movement, where, at times, both pianist and conductor seem to be waiting for the other. But I must not make too much of these details. Even if the balance occasionally falls short of the best, the piano playing and the recording quality are superb, and the equal of any; perhaps the best of the lot.

-- Gramophone [1/1958, reviewing the original LP release of the Emperor Concerto]


This is altogether an exceptionally warm, expansive performance of the Fourth Concerto, and Decca’s 1954 mono recording still sounds very well indeed. As for Curzon, from the very opening bars, their sweeping scale rendered as a magical pianissimo, you know you are in the presence of a true artist. There is a similar, though much longer, scale shortly after the start of the recapitulation, leading to a wonderful interpolation in E flat major – once again played by Curzon with rapt intensity.

Performance: 5 (out of 5), Sound: 4 (out of 5)

-- Misha Donat, BBC Music Magazine
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Clifford Curzon (Piano)
Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/1954 
Venue:  Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 33 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Clifford Curzon (Piano)
Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 06/1957 
Venue:  Sofien Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 38 Minutes 57 Secs. 

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