Brilliant Beethoven from Barenboim
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 05/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD finds a young Daniel Barenboim doing what he does best -- sitting on the piano bench instead of standing at the podium. Here he plays magnificently with Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Orchestra on Beethoven's Emporer Concerto and the Choral Fantasy. Interestingly, Klemperer was originally scheduled to record these Beethoven Concertos with Rudolf Firkusny, but the conductor became ill and Firkusny was not available upon Klemp's return. Barenboim was a more than able substitute but it is still nice to imagine what could have been. Those who are truly interested in this material should pass on this single disc though, and get all of the Klemp/Barenboim performances as part of the EMI box set of the symphonies and concertos (concertos 1-4 are not currently available as single discs). A final note, these classic stereo recordings should be preferred hands down to Barenboim's Beethoven Concerto recordings on EMI Seraphim where he both plays and conducts."
A great partnership, but this isn't their finest moment
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 05/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I lavished praise on the Barenboim-Klemperer cycle of the five Beethoven piano concertos. Their May-December marriage brought out the best in both artists, and overall, anyone who expects the octagenarian Klemperer to sound feeble or sluggish has nothing to worry about. And yet...
This Emperor and Choral Fantasy are definitely the weak links in the cycle. All three movements of the concerto seem a bit lumbering at times, and Barenboim sounds constrained, as if he is using weight and volume to make up fr the halting tempos. There is some great musicianship on display, but you have to be a fan of Klemperer's stolid Beethoven symphonies to find these readings inspired. He becomes, if anything, heavier and more measured in the Choral Fantasy, an improvisatory work that only succeeds if it's tossed off with moment-by-moment excitement, as we get from Serkin and Bernstien on Sonly."