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Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1-5/Choral Fantasia - Daniel Barenboim, Otto Klemperer, New Philharmonia Orchestra & John Alldis Choir
Ludwig van Beethoven, Otto Klemperer, New Philharmonia Orchestra
Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1-5/Choral Fantasia - Daniel Barenboim, Otto Klemperer, New Philharmonia Orchestra & John Alldis Choir
Genre: Classical


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Great performances, not so great audio engineers
King Lemuel | Puyallup, WA | 10/18/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"I am a big fan of Klemperer and Barenboim and I did enjoy these performances, but my enjoyment was negatively affected by the very audible audio distortion. These discs date from the mid 60s and, from the audio engineers standpoint, they sound FAR WORSE than the Rubinstein/Krips early stereo Beethoven Piano Concerto cycle from the mid 50s.

On all the discs I heard the piano distort, especially on concerto 1 (listen at about 14.5 minutes during movement 1) and the Choral Fantasy is pretty bad. It is not too bad on concertos 4 and 5. During the intense parts, the orchestra can sound a little shrill as if the recording levels were set too high.

Since I have only heard this music via Rhapsody, maybe the problem is with their conversion and not to be found on the CD. If other listeners have the actual CDs and they do not distort as I have described, please set me straight and post comments and your own review. There are two CD versions by EMI currently for sale This present Great Recordings of the Century from 2006 and an earlier 2002 release. There is one review posted for the earlier release complaining about the harshness of the sound and seems like that reviewer was hearing what I heard "the piano has an almost harsh ringing sound. Infact, the entire recording has a supercharged high end that can be oppressive."

If these recordings did not distort, this would be a 4 or 5 star review.
Richard Gollin | Scotland | 01/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First of all a big thankyou to Amazon reviewers; I was given this group of concerti for Christmas because of its 4 and 5 star reviews as part of other sets....

Then it turns up in this guise with just 1 review where it is hammered on a technicality. So let me say straight away that I was given this set on CD and listened to it on CD via ordinary KEF speakers. I am certainly not an engineer or technician but the CDs sound perfect to me with the piano neither too forward nor too distant. No hiss or scratch or any other problem at all.The moral is; if you are going to review CDs, listen to CDs!

And the performances!!Just wonderful traditional performances. I am lucky enough to have seen Klemperer several times in London when young.As a teenager I knew nothing of his troubled past or reputation with critics. I was getting an introduction to the repertoire with a RFH season ticket and I loved the concerts.

For those who think that living in London from 1964 to 66 meant that I was lucky enough to see the Beatles, Stones, Searchers and Kinks you are right. But the season ticket at the Festival Hall also meant seeing Klemperer, Kertesz, Kempe, Bernstein, Guilini, Rozdesvensky, Barbirolli etc. My music education (thanks to an exasperated father) was way above any other subject.

By the way, the selling difference in this set is the Choral Fantasia which was performed at this years proms.It was damned with faint praise by the critics and it is given open hostility in the CD guide..but I love it.A new (to me , anyway) Beethoven orchestral work is a fresh and massive bonus!

The whole lot are at a bargain basement price ; wonderful."
Excellent Playing But Unexciting!
Roger W. Wood | Jacksonville, Florida | 06/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I got these concertos because I have so much respect for Daniel Barenboim and Otto Klemperer. Barenboim gave me the best performance of
Brahms 2nd concerto with Celibidache and the Munich Philharmonic that I have ever heard anywhere anytime. (Apparently that 1995 performance is available only on VHS out of Amazon UK.) To me it was world class and a world beater, for I have never heard its equal. I had to hear it on Youtube of all places! What a meeting between orchestra, conductor, and soloist. That concerto, I would argue, is the mightiest we know in western civilization. But that's all beside the point. Because I love Klemperer too. And here these two, young and old, pling out Beethoven's piano concerti legacy!

I can sum it all up quickly. Great playing. Unexciting. One would think that Beethoven's music played anyway would be exciting. But apparently not. It has heretofore been my impression that it's hard to play Beethoven without being excitable on some level: depth, breath, and length. (For example, I find the Hammerklavier sonata very exciting!) So how can anyone as good as Barenboim and Klemperer and the Philharmonia play these great concerti technically so well but be so glum unmemorable. If I did not know who these two were, and it were up to me to buy the best performances based on discipline, approach, and other things like passion, I would buy the Szell-Fleisher on Sony or the Giulini-Michaelangeli on DG sets over these. However, if you love these two like I do, that's enough reason to just get them and listen reverently. Ah, well, they are played gorgeously.