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Beethoven: Concertos For Piano Nos 3 & 4 / Brendel, Haitink

Release Date: 04/08/2010 
Label:  Philips Silverline Classics Catalog #: 420861   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

As a fervent and imaginative reading of the C minor Concerto this Brendel version is outstanding, commandingly fine. In comparative terms it arguably offers more sonic thrust than the Kempff (DG 138 776, 7/62) which it resembles in its many lively imaginative insights, or the Bishop-Kovacevich (Philips 6500 315, 1/73). The exuberant and imaginative Annie Fischer version (DG Heliodor 2548 238, 8/76) is much cheaper but is less sonorous. The work, as Robert Simpson observes in his exceptionally useful sleeve-note, is both a culmination and an anticipation, a work of great power which boldly manoeuvres a tradition which Beethoven is in the process of transcending without wholly encompassing. Brendel's performance catches all this: catches well Read more the work's vibrance, its physical and imaginative nature, its whims and caprices. I cannot agree with TH, writing in November 1977, who thought the first movement too slow. The tempo seems to me unexceptionable, central, drama and reflection finely accommodated. Haitink, too, is capable of grace and power, though perhaps more intermittently than Brendel himself. Robbed of the necessary freedom to improvize around rhythm and texture, accompanying this Concerto must be a frustrating, even at times thankless, task; and there are some minor lapses of ensemble in what is otherwise an ecstatically beautiful performance of the great E major Largo, as well as moments in the finale's first half when Haitink and his players breathlessly anticipate or momentarily fall behind their irrepressible soloist. But one must not be unduly critical. For the most part, the orchestral contribution is distinguished. There is plenty of G sharp in the Largo's concluding E major chord, the coda of the finale is a tour de force and, almost everywhere, the players have a very complete sense of a performance by Brendel which is, in all respects, an event The recording is very bold, responsive to the soloist's Protean colourings and frequent formidable thrusts. Though it is still possible to make out a strong case for Kempif on DG or Ashkenazy, finely accompanied by Solti on Decca (5XL6653, 11/75), Brendel's many admirers should not hesitate to acquire this exceptionally fine account of a grand and provoking work.

-- Gramophone [7/1979, reviewing Concerto no 3 on LP]


In November 1977 records of the complete Beethoven piano concertos performed by the above musicians were very favourably received by TH, and each concerto is now being issued separately at a somewhat higher cost per disc. Right from the start you sense that this is going to be an outstanding performance. Both orchestra and pianist project the music with precisely controlled yet sensitive playing which would surely have brought joy to the composer's heart had he heard it. On the whole details are commendably clear, but this is not always the case with very low notes; for instance you cannot pick out the pianist's left-hand triplets in the first movement around bar 107. On the other hand I sometimes suspected that a microphone near the double-basses was being used to excess, for instance right at the end of the first movement. Brendel phrases the slow movement most beautifully, and finds just the right mixture of strength and delicacy in the finale, which is also most beautifully played by the orchestra. The cadenzas are Beethoven's and though they are not among his best I am inclined to think that they fit in better than anyone else's. Recommended.

-- Gramophone [7/1979, reviewing Concerto no 4 on LP]
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 

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