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Beethoven: Piano Concertos No 2 & 4; Gluck / Leon Fleisher, Et Al

Release Date: 09/29/2009 
Label:  Medici Masters   Catalog #: 36-2   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenChristoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Leon Fleisher
Conductor:  Hans RosbaudOtto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

BEETHOVEN Piano Concertos: No. 2; 1 No. 4. 2 GLUCK Iphigenie in Aulis: Overture 2 Leon Fleisher (pn); Hans Rosbaud, cond; 1 Otto Klemperer, cond ; 2 Cologne RSO MEDICI ARTS Read more class="ARIAL12"> 36 (72:02) Broadcast: Cologne 1956; 2 1957 1

This disc is compiled from recordings made in Cologne in 1956 (Concerto No. 4 and the Gluck) and 1957 (Concerto No. 2)—just a few years after Leon Fleisher won the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition in 1952 and several years before he recorded all five Beethoven concertos with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. The benchmark accounts with Szell, which have been available for 50 years now, feature a Fourth Concerto that remains one of the finest ever made. The present disc is welcome for obvious historical and musical reasons, and while the Cologne Radio Orchestra is not the Cleveland Orchestra, the contributions of Otto Klemperer and Hans Rosbaud are significant.

Already in 1956, Fleisher had a seasoned approach to the Fourth Concerto, undoubtedly much influenced by his 10 years of study with Artur Schnabel. We know from the opening chords that this is not the playing of a brash young competition winner, and later in the first movement we hear wonderfully ethereal scales and passagework, everything sounding natural and unforced. The cadenza, the better of Beethoven’s two, is not overly Romantic, but it builds to a thrilling climax of broken-chord figuration. The hushed opening pages of the slow movement seem haunted by the specter of Schnabel, and the finale is paced beautifully from first note to last, Klemperer’s reputed preference for slowish tempos being nowhere in evidence. In short, this account is more than a kind of preface to the version by Fleisher/Szell. The Second Concerto is appropriately tauter in conception and execution, with springing tempos and much deft and pearly left-hand work from Fleisher in the outer movements. Among more recent recordings of both concertos, I recommend the fluent ones by Perahia and Haitink with the Concertgebouw, not forgetting Gilels and Ludwig with the Philharmonia in the Fourth. The Gluck Overture rounds out the present disc nicely, and the remastering by Wolfgang Ellers sounds first-rate.

FANFARE: Charles Timbrell
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Leon Fleisher (Piano)
Conductor:  Hans Rosbaud
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793/1798; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 27 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Leon Fleisher (Piano)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 32 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Iphigénie en Aulide: Overture by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Leon Fleisher (Piano)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1772-1774; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 10 Minutes 59 Secs. 

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