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Beethoven: Piano Concertos 3 & 5 / Eschenbach, Henze, Ozawa

Release Date: 03/26/2013 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 94602  
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Christoph Eschenbach
Conductor:  Hans Werner HenzeSeiji Ozawa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraBoston Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Trevor Harvey, for example, writing in the Gramophone in 1972, heard “penetrating insight and brilliance” in Eschenbach’s performance of Beethoven’s C minor concerto, but found the conductor’s contribution – Hans Werner Henze, no less – “often sluggish”. Getting on for forty years later, I can only agree with the first judgement as much as I disagree with the second. I was fascinated to hear what kind of a showing Henze would make as a conductor in such a work. The very opening is smooth and soft-grained, and the orchestral sound is more early Romantic than anything Classical. But to my ears the playing and the pacing of the music is full of character, and when the orchestra is given a purely subsidiary role the conductor and soloist are as Read more one. This is a lyrical view of the concerto, less severe than many readings. A certain over-emphasis when accents are marked in, both from the soloist and the orchestra, is the only point which disturbed me, and this is emphasised by a close recording. Otherwise I found this a most satisfying performance.

I’m not usually an admirer of Ozawa, especially in the Viennese classics, so I had some misgivings before hearing the performance of the “Emperor Concerto”. I was wrong. The orchestral contribution is quite superb, unanimous, very subtle in accompanying passages. Just listen how the Boston players tuck in to the first movement tutti. Ozawa even manages to make something significant out of the inner strings scrubbing figures! Eschenbach is magnificent, strongly assertive where necessary, and, like his orchestra, highly sensitive in the moments when he accompanies orchestral solos. The second movement is very slow and tender, but otherwise the tempi do not draw attention to themselves. My only negative reaction rather confirmed my feelings about the C minor concerto, a certain harshness of tone, a hammering quality in louder passages such as the thundering octaves at several points in the first movement. The recording is superbly full, rich and detailed, but there are at least two clumsy edits, one example at 5:26 in the first movement so grievous that one wonders how it was allowed to pass.

-- William Hedley, MusicWeb International
reviewing these recordings previously reissued as part of Brilliant 9189 Read less

Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Christoph Eschenbach (Piano)
Conductor:  Hans Werner Henze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Christoph Eschenbach (Piano)
Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 

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