Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Ludwig van Beethoven, James Levine, Evgeny Kissin|
Beethoven Piano Concertos No.2 and No.5
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Fresh, youthful Beethoven from Evgeny Kissin and James Levi
Alan Majeska | Bad Axe, MI, USA | 08/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am not a big fan of Evgeny Kissin or James Levine, although I respect both of their talents and impressive discographies. When I listen to Beethoven Piano Concertos, I tend to go for Kempff/Leitner (DG), Rubinstein/Leinsdorf (RCA), Barenboim/Klemperer (EMI), or Ashkenazy/Solti (Decca). But when I read in AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE's 2003 BEETHOVEN OVERVIEW of the excellence of this recording -I respect their reviewers' opinions - I checked it out on Amazon.com, and bought my own copy.
I'm very happy that I did. Levine sets tempos which are fresh and youthful, showing Beethoven as the young virtuoso. The Age of Enlightenment, an optimism that the world was getting better, a trend of the late 1700s/early 1800s, shines through in Kissin's and Levine's interpretations. We could really use this optimism in our current, post-9/11 age, even while facing facts about how things are.(This recording was made in 1997, if that's important to you). Kissin's virtuosity is secure and without question; if he doesn't plumb the depths of Beethoven's soul as say Backhaus, Edwin Fischer, or other pianists of a few generations ago have done, I can settle for the emphasis on youthful virtuosity.
Both Piano Concerto 2 (Beethoven's 1st completed piano concerto, but the 2nd to be published, dating from 1795) and the later "Emperor" Concerto (No. 5) benefit from Kissin's and Levine's interpretation. Pianist and conductor work as a team, and are in complete accord with one another.
I recommend this, and would it be too much to hope for that Kissin and Levine record Beethoven's Piano Concertos 1,3,and 4 to make a complete cycle of all 5 Beethoven Piano Concertos?"
Good but not great
J. Buxton | Waltham, MA United States | 05/15/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Kissin is probably THE piano virtuoso of our day and he definitely shows off his awesome talent here in abundance. The Philharmonia Orchestra (in my mind one of the top five orchestras in the world today) are caught very well and Levine has conducted these works before on cd (most notably with Alfred Brendel and the Chicago Symphony on Philips). While the playing cannot be faulted and everything goes well, there isn't too much to distinguish the interpretations of either concerto from the literally dozens of versions out there. Hence it doesn't merit five stars. In my opinion it doesn't rank with the truly legendary recordings of these works, namely Kempff on DG, any of Brendel's three sets on Vox or Philips, Perahia on Sony, or Ashkenazy on Decca. Still, if you are a Kissin fan you are sure to be delighted."
Kissin revitalized these pieces for me
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 09/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After umpteen exposures to the Beethoven piano concertos, I am always on the lookout for something special, a performance that will spark new interest in me. Kissin and Levine did that with htis CD, largely through the sheer force of Kissin's effortless, commanding virtuosity. This is the most spellbinding concerto playing in the Emperor since Horowitz. I know that many modern music lovers aren't listening for the grand manner anymore, preferring the more selfless style of a Perahia--whom I also admire--but in this case I can't help but be overwhlemed."