The perfect Emperor.
Alexander Leach | Shipley, West Yorkshire United Kingdom | 05/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Fifth Concerto, the Emperor, remains the most popular, and has been recorded innumerable times. First choice for me is perhaps Murray Perahia on Sony. Wonderful playing, very much from the eighteenth century, and a finale that really sparkles, but which does not lack power. Beautiful sound too, but rather short measure.I understand why some like the Emperor to be played in a style akin to Tchaikovsky's First Concerto, in a grand romantic style (e.g. as Horowitz used to play it). I also used to like this approach, but Perahia's is more stylistically idiomatic. Don't for a moment think that this version is underpowered, because it certainly is not: his playing is full of authority and the orchestral playing under Haitink is the most thrilling I've heard in this piece.My other favourites in this piece:Wilhelm Kempff's stereo DG account from 1961 is fine: magnificent playing throughout, with a sense of humanity in the Adagio that is compelling in its intensity. The finale is well paced: it is difficult to accept that Kempff was aged 65 when this recording was made.Michelangeli's DG recording with Giulini is not one of his finest; anyone wanting to hear Michelangeli in this work, one of his most famous interpretations, should seek out his 1957 Prague Festival performance on Praga, in remarkably fine sound. In his eighties, the late Claudio Arrau recorded a fine version of the Emperor Concerto on Philips. Highly spontaneous, with a superb orchestral backdrop provided by the Staatskapelle Dresden under Sir Colin Davis. A remarkable performance of the work can be heard on a Piano Library CD: Walter Gieseking's 1944 Berlin broadcast in superb early stereo, which sounds remarkable in its clarity. This remains one of the most exciting Emperors ever, with the protaganists even ignoring audible anti-aircraft fire during the closing pages of the first movement."
Best Sounding Orchestra
Eugene F. Fama | Pacific Palisades, CA United States | 03/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Concertgebuow always sounds great, which is the case here. The strings never get mushy as they sometimes do in recordings of Beethoven piano concertos. Everything is crisp and tight. Haitink also lets fly when necessary, generating plenty of excitement, especially in the final movement. I also love Murray Perahia for what he does, which is a lyrical sort of playing maybe better suited to Mozart than Beethoven. There's no threat of a nasty tone or harshly struck chord, and this has its downside: the reading is polite in spots. There's not as much suspense as with "angrier" players like Stephen Kovacevich, who often seems on the verge of chaos. Perahia's piano is less featured and the overall effect is more classical. You could argue this is appropriate for the material, but there's something viceral about a more aggressive interplay between the piano and orchestra, a la Kovacevich-Davis.Haitink's backing of Perahia is more crisp and dynamic than Colin Davis and the BBC Orchestra's backing of Kovacevich. I guess I'd really like to hear Haitink with Kovacevich, but all in all this is one of the best recordings of 5 I've heard--only to be outdone by Kovacevich and Davis.A note of correction: the version in the movie "Immortal Beloved" is Perahia with Georg Solti and the London Symphony, which judging from the snippets of soundtrack, is even better than Perahia-Haitink. Unfortunately it's not available in complete form, or better yet as a complete concerto cycle."
A sonic-boom performance. Superb sound.
Eugene F. Fama | 03/08/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Simply the most beautifully played "Emperor" available; all helped by wonderful, full sound. Perahia's playing is flawless, full of color and poetic phrasing one expects from this great artist. The entire concerto set is also a top- flight recommendation."