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Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4 & 5
Ludwig van Beethoven, Otto Klemperer, Philharmonia Orchestra of London
Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4 & 5
Genre: Classical


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The absolute Beethoven
Bogdan Iliescu | Houston, TX USA | 12/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Finding an absolute interpretation of a Beethoven work is a very difficult undertake, yet finding a revelatory interpretation of the last two piano concertos is even more difficult. One would need two interpreters of the same caliber able to communicate perfectly with each other. For a while I thought that happened only in the case of the Emperor of Furtwangler and Edwin Fisher. And out comes this box from Testament as another proof that musical miracles can happen.
And what a miracle. At first I couldn't believe that the most profound Beethovenian pianist, i.e. Arrau, and the Dean of the Beethovenian conductors played together. But they did and the result is fabolous. The music is born before reaching your ears, two fundamental forces of nature just erupt and become one to the very heart of Beethoven tone and message. It is a unbelievable act of creation so true and so powerfull that you forget about anything else. Arrau plays like in no other of his recordings. His spirit goes to the heart of music sharper and more insightful than anywhere else. His technique is wonderful, in what was probably the peak of his physical form. The piano is from another world to put it in one sentence.
On the other hand this is the first recording of any of the three piano concertos where orchestra is a partner of equal power and equal share to the musical drama. These are the only recordings I know (and believe me I know some) that have two main characters of the same impact and weight. Klemperer conducts his orchestra with the authority and the granitic force that are his landmark. Anywhere the fiery spirit of Arrau goes Klemperer follows with force and see-through knowledge.
As it is probably clear by now I think that these are the ultimate Beethoven piano concertos in an unearthy class of their own which only Furtwangler Fisher partnership managed to reach before."
A titanic collaboration and a passionate 4th concerto
John Grabowski | USA | 04/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First, a warning: if you have to have perfect sound, look elsewhere, for these recordings are somewhat tubby and a bit distant. They'll never win awards for sound. But for the playing!! --This is Beethoven the way you never hear it today--bold, assertive, poetic, never riddled with doubt from all the recent politically-correct scholarship. Arrau and Klemperer play with sweeping grand gestures, and they don't time to stop and wonder if this is historically-correct. They are *making* history.

I've never been a big fan of Beethoven's C minor concerto, but here is a big, granite-like reading that should keep you happy if you are. While the transition from the first momvement cadenza back to the orchestra is a little heavy-handed here, overall this is a great, exciting reading. The Emperor is grand, but it doesn't quite measure up to Arrau's recording in 1958 with Alceo Galliera, my favorite among his many and currently not available. It's hard to play some of the middle development passages without getting plain bangy and scaly,and he does. He more than makes up for it in a gorgeous Largo, however, that's probably his tenderest on record.

That leaves the 4th concerto, the real reason for getting this set. For once Arrau has a conductor who goes head to head with him here, inserting his own strong personality into the orchestral part. There are finesses here I've never heard in a 4th before, particularly with how Klemp handles the winds in the first movement--beautifully sad and plaintive. Arrau builds and builds the first movement development. When the hushed recap emerges it has the feeling of devotion. This is church music. The big cadenza in the second movement is dramatic, and builds to a shattering climax as Arrau stretches out the last phrase, just before churchly silence returns again. It's a moment that gave me goosebumps and I've never heard it in a 4th before by anyone. This reading is far more intense than any of his studio efforts--Arrau is looser live--and more intense than any performance by any other pianist I've ever heard, and as this is my favorite piano concerto, I've heard quite a few. Arrau *owns* this piece.

The Op. 110 sonata is a fine reading, but it's been released by EMI before, and I think it's probably equalled or surpassed by his later 60s account on Philips (though I admit I haven't A-Bed them for quite a while). At any rate, the sound is better on that Philips set, and it captures the true magesty of Arrau. (EMI never seemed able to do that.) The op. 78 sonata is a real gem. To the best of my knowledge this is the first time this has been on CD, and it's a wonderful reading--anyone who can make this sonata thrilling has got to be special. Sound is servicible but not great. Liner notes are interesting and give some historical context. Buy this if you love Arrau, Klemperer or the 4th concerto. Don't expect demonstrator sound, and you should check out other performances of these works too, but this is a great recording to have on your shelf."
Klemp and Arrau are here!
Ryan Kouroukis | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 12/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The famous Arrau/Klemperer concerts were a cause for celebration and great joy to those who had the chance to attend these historic performances.

Fortunately we all now have the oppertunity to witness them again!

The young Arrau brings refined beauty, and the old Klemperer brings his heavy hands. Together they provide unique, compelling and powerful interpretations."