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Piano Concerto 5 " Emperor "
Beethoven, Bishop, Kovacevich
Piano Concerto 5 " Emperor "
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Beethoven, Bishop, Kovacevich, Lso
Title: Piano Concerto 5 " Emperor "
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Polygram Records
Release Date: 10/25/1990
Genre: Classical
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 028942248229

CD Reviews

Bishop-Kovachevich best in masterly Emperor.
Janos Gardonyi | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 03/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I guess I am the first person to review this recording and it is unfortunate because this is probably the best recording available of this most magnificent of concertos.
Stephen Bishop-Kovachevich is an extraordinary pianist, very sensitive, imaginative and a great vituoso. He views the concerto on a grand scale, fully understanding its architecture and structural strengths, perhaps one of Beethoven's greatest gifts and claim to immortality.
There are many noteworthy details to observe: the light tip-toeing syncopated second subject in the first movement, the sudden ff chords erupting in the development section followed by the descending octaves in perfectly controlled diminuendo, the heavenly closing subject played out by the orchestra in the Coda with the piano arpeggios underlying it, so beautifully played that we all feel like singing along with it. The second movement melody simply singing and flowing with grace through the three subsequent variations, but the pianist's approach is always new and different. The connecting link to the Rondo is breathtaking where the pianist carresses the chords and keeps us in eager anticipation. The Rondo then comes on like sunshine breaking through and" rides" (there is something definitely equestrian about it) along with tremendous jollity and fun. Then there is the ending, when all quiets down, the orchestra seems to disappear into a series of timpany notes, but the piano suddenly resurrects into one final fast upward passage followed by the last triumphant chords of the orchestra.
Masterly performance. Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony also deserve great credits.
Recording quality by Phillips is superlative with excellent balance between the orchestra and soloist. A Penguin Guide Rosette disc, what more can one say?"
My Favorite Interpretation
William Murray | Hoffman Estates, IL | 12/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"While I have other very fine interpretations of the Emperor, this is my favorite. Its unrushed and elegant, finding just the right amount of flexibility in tempo and delicacy in dynamics. And it still abounds in excitement and joy. Listening to this introduced me to Kovacevich and has lead me to explore his other CDs, including his complete Beethoven Sonata series. He is amazingly gifted and versatile. It has also led me to a greater appreciation of Sir Colin Davis (I take pride that he was a fellow clarinetist!)."
A good if somewhat cautious "Emperor" paired with an outstan
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 05/24/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"When this "Emperor" Cto. appeared in 1970, Stephen Bishop, as he was known then, was turning thirty. He was particularly acclaimed in Britain, and the Gramophone reviewer described his talent as being "of a serious, painstakingly musical kind." that's as good a phrase as any to portray this performance, which is serious rather than dashing or ebullient and at times Painstaking when the pianist seems to lose impetus so that he can carefully handle the details of a particular passage. This tendency gives a hot-and-cold feeling to the first movement, because Colin Davis, still in his early forties, gives a robust, at times rough-edged and rambunctious accompaniment. Where conductor and soloist are at one is in seeing the Emperor as a big Romantic work. They don't approach it on the scale of Barenboim and Klemperer (EMI), but the gestures are on a grander scale than, say, Kempff and Leitner (DG). I like all three recordings.

Forty years on, Stephen Kovacevich hasn't fulfilled his early promise. He never returned to the Beethoven concertos, but if you know his sonata recordings, they lack the dash and brio heard here. The pianist seems to be more inward, even reclusive so far as making new recordings goes. His legacy will largely rest on this early era of Philips recordings, most of them splendid. After the relatively high-powered first movement (we are nowhere close to Serkin's kinetic dynamism or Fleisher's dazzling precision), the Adagio is very quiet and poetic. Kovacevich's touch is almost gingerly. In the finale, which for me should be almost Lisztian in its fireworks, the pianist prefers to be poised, accurate, and a bit cautious. The recorded sound is good if a bit dated, especially in the somewhat brittle piano. In all, this is a very good "Emperor" though not a completely memorable one. (It can also be found in a budget two-fer in the Philips Duo series.)

The filler, Beethoven's late sonata Op. 109, held the most attraction for me. Given its more feminine style compared to the huge sonatas that surround it, I thought it would suit Kovacevich's musical personality. As it turns out, he seems more comfortable here than in the grander parts of the Emperor. He's able to bring out his reflective side, but more than that, without an orchestra to follow, his highly flexible sense of tempo, sudden explosions of sound, and at times abrupt phrasing are allowed to emerge. these qualities turned into tics in his later Beethoven recordings for EMI. Here, they sound refreshingly individual. I would count this a real standout among modern readings, in fact, because of its assurance combined with poetic gentleness."