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Bartók: Piano Concertos No 1-3 / Boulez, Zimerman, Et Al

Release Date: 01/11/2005 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 000388502   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Béla Bartók
Performer:  Krystian ZimermanLeif Ove AndsnesHélčne Grimaud
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony OrchestraBerlin Philharmonic OrchestraLondon Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Three concertos, three orchestras, three soloists, one conductor--an interesting concept, and it works. These are very fine performances by any standard. The First Concerto at first seems not to have quite as much rhythmic heft as say, Kocsis or Ashkenazy, but a glance at the score reveals Pierre Boulez and Krystian Zimerman to be exceptionally attentive to Bartók's dynamic markings. The first fortissimo arrives five bars after figure 11, exactly as written, but it would be a mistake to typify this reading in any way as soft-edged. Bartók himself, as a pianist, was noteworthy for stressing his music's lyricism and folk-orientation. So does Zimerman, and the combination of this quality with Boulez's typical clarity makes for an Read more unusually probing reading.

The Second Concerto goes even better. Leif Ove Andsnes attacks the outer movements with exceptional gusto. The Chicago Symphony's virtuosity in the First Concerto may have been expected, but the response of the Berliners is no less remarkable, especially in the finale, where they really pull out all the stops. Excellent balances between soloist and orchestra ensure a characterful interplay of melodies and textures, especially in the haunted second movement (here taken quite slowly, comparatively speaking). Hélène Grimaud's contribution to the Third Concerto may be the most controversial: she's quite free and Romantic in her phrasing, and in the central Adagio religioso her more overt sentimentality could be seen as working against the grain of the music (at least when compared to the simpler, more inward approach of Kocsis). Nor is the playing of the LSO quite on a par with that of Chicago, and especially Berlin--but then the Third Concerto really does inhabit a different world from the first two, and some listeners surely will find Grimaud's approach convincing. She certainly plays extremely well.

Given the different recording venues, the sonics are surprisingly well equalized from one performance to the next, and while my reference edition remains Kocsis on Philips, this disc does full justice to the music and provides an excellent showcase for three of today's most interesting and exciting pianists. It's a keeper, for sure.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 1, Sz 83 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Krystian Zimerman (Piano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Budapest, Hungary 
Concerto for Piano no 2, Sz 95 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Leif Ove Andsnes (Piano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930-1931; Budapest, Hungary 
Concerto for Piano no 3, Sz 119 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Hélčne Grimaud (Piano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 

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