Notes and Editorial Reviews
When CD players first appeared on the market in 1983, Radu Lupu's 1979 Beethoven Emperor Concerto was the first version of this war-horse available in the new medium. It cost about 20 dollars and had no coupling. Eighteen years and umpteen versions on CD later, Eloquence reissues this Emperor in new clothes, at budget price, with the two Op. 51 Rondos and "little" Sonatas 19 and 20 thrown in for good measure. Happily, Lupu's splendid pianism thrives among the recorded competition. His port wine sonority and leonine temperament perfectly suit the red-blooded outer movements. Granted, Lupu doesn't always pull back when the piano takes on a supporting rather than starring role. By the same token, he conveys the ruminative disquiet of
the opening movement's B major episode without applying brakes to the basic tempo, as most pianists tend to do (Beethoven indicates no tempo change). Aside from a pallid climax in the aforementioned movement, Zubin Mehta elicits warm, vibrant playing from the responsive Israel Philharmonic. The solo items are impressively polished and refined, albeit without the dramatic tension and dynamic bite characterizing Schnabel and Richter's dissimilar versions. All in all, a fine disc, and the engineering hasn't aged one bit.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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