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Beethoven: Piano Concertos / Barenboim, Staatskapelle Berlin

Barenboim / Beethoven
Release Date: 03/29/2011 
Label:  Euroarts   Catalog #: 2056779  
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



BEETHOVEN Piano Concertos: Nos. 1–5 Daniel Barenboim (cond); pn; Staatskapelle Berlin EUROARTS 2056779 (2 DVDs: 198:00) Live: Bochu, Germany 06/2007


Daniel Barenboim is an amazing musician, though I am surprised at the number of times over the years where this competency has been called into question. When he was conductor of the Paris Orchestra years ago, and then got the Chicago Symphony job, many were speaking of how bad the Parisians sounded during his tenure, and that he had done little to improve the Read more quality of the orchestra, thereby questioning whether he was suited for the CSO. Despite the fact that this begs the issue as to whether the CSO needed improvement at all, I heard the Paris Orchestra around 1977 with Barenboim at the helm, and it sounded no better or worse than I have ever heard it. Some thought his mannerisms at the podium too contrived, others disliked his way at the piano with almost every major composer you can think of. I find him astounding in just about everything he has done, and his early Mozart Requiem and Bartók Divertimento and Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste are among my most treasured recordings. From a philosophical and humanitarian aspect he is almost without parallel.


I have to admit that I marvel at the sounds he creates on the piano—his hands look as short and stubby as mine do, yet his proficiency from Mozart to Liszt is incredible, and somehow he finds a way around the keyboard that lacks the smoothness of Horowitz but still gets the job done with equal musicality. These concertos from 2007, recorded at the Klavier-Festival Ruhr, are models of emotional consistency, technical wizardry, and tasteful enunciation. Barenboim is constantly drawing out items of phrasing and emphasis that I had never heard before, but yet seem so natural and fitted to the music at hand. Period antics are not supported, though some tempos might remind you of “advances” in that department. There is glorious, rich string sound—as always exemplified by the Staatskapelle Berlin, with which the conductor recorded Beethoven’s nine symphonies a few years back—while the burnished wind sound and really emphatic timpani only add to the spice.


No. 1, actually the second to be written, is always struggled with. Performers simply don’t know whether to treat it as a late-Classical piece or early-Romantic one. Barenboim, I think, opts for the latter, but with some reserve, though the final movement bursts with energy and enthusiasm. It is a lot different from my other favorite, Ashkenazy and Solti on Decca. No. 2 to me has been owned by Argerich, but Barenboim cedes little to her in his reading, far more romantic in temperament than he takes No. 1. No. 3, the C Minor, also occasionally suffers from personality conflicts as well, in the same manner as the C Major, though at least here we have a model, Mozart’s own C-Minor (No. 25), which has the same affliction judging by the number of recordings that treat it as a precursor to the romantic movement. Barenboim would agree with this assessment, slowing down the tempo a bit, and being very deliberate in its pacing. I think I still prefer Fleisher/Szell in this one, though as a performance it is certainly worthy. The great G Major, maybe Beethoven’s finest concerto, period, is given a riveting reading here of studied nuance and some really pointed wind playing. Again the pianist sails over the keyboard in Beethoven’s many filigreed and cascading runs, and he manages the noble theme of the first movement in a way that avoids any sort of pretended nobility and makes it out to be one of the composer’s most inspired creations. If I still hang on to the memory of Arrau/Bernstein for their Amnesty International concert on DG (available only in a box set at the moment) it is only because Arrau had such a limpid and liquid tone in this concerto. Finally, the E?-concerto, truly the most bombastic of the bunch in the wrong hands, is given a reading that is as near to perfection as I have ever heard. I thought this once of Cliburn/Reiner, but Barenboim the pianist matches the insights of Barenboim the conductor at every turn, and manages to transform the opening movement’s ostentatiousness into true thematic wonder with its lyrical line and sweeping phrases. He keeps it going and keeps it flashy by avoiding excess and letting the nature of the music itself provide the fireworks.


I don’t think I can recommend this set highly enough, easily the equal of any CD or SACD set I know, and available in PCM, Dolby Digital, and DTS surround sound, each spectacular. The camerawork, by the way, is excellent, appropriate, and non-intrusive, only adding to the experience, though I have no doubt I will listen to the set many times with the TV off.


FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter


Recorded live at Jahrhunderthalle, Bochum, 21-23 May 2007 during the Klavier-Festival Ruhr

Picture format: NTSC 16:9 anamorphic
Sound formats: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 200 mins
No. of DVDs: 2 (DVD 9)
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795; Vienna, Austria 
2. Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793/1798; Vienna, Austria 
3. Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
4. Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle 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:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 

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