A great introduction to Schoenberg for the 12-tone phobic!
firstname.lastname@example.org | Houston, TX | 07/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though the name "Schoenberg" makes some people cringe, the Schoenberg piano concerto is a wonderful and highly expressive work. Though composed in the 12-tone style, it contains the same degree of lyricism and rhythmic drive that other, non-12-tone pieces have. Ax gives this concerto what it deserves- a highly sensitive performance that shows the concerto is a true piece of music rather than the product of a mechanical compositional process. I'll admit I bought this disc primarily for the Schoenberg, but have enjoyed listening to both Liszt concerti as well. Though these works are at times looked down upon as inferior pieces, Ax reminds us that Liszt opened up an entirely new world of piano technique and sound. His performance is full of color, energy, and excitement."
email@example.com | 07/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not very familiar with Schoenberg, but this is an attractive recording. As for the Liszt, of which I've heard a few recordings, I have to say this one is not bad at all. Quite compelling, in fact. Esa-Pekka educes a vivacity necessary for these Romantic concertos, and Ax does nothing to dampen the spirit. The recording is surprising clear, as well. All in all, a worthwhile CD, especially for the price."
Glittering Liszt, but the standout is a riveting Schoenberg
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 03/11/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The marketing tactic here was to sweeten the abstruse Schoenberg Piano Concerto, the height of intellectualism (by reputation) with the all but mindless fun of the two Liszt concertos. And why not? If they come for Liszt but stay for Schoenberg, some good has been served. Yet Ax's electrifying reading of the Schoenberg is the real standout here. Abetted by a brilliantly clear recording that makes the score sound as luscious as Mahler, and a conductor who's a true modernist, this recording doesn't make the dissonance easier on the ear, but it tells a story. Both conductor and soloist know the music so well and approach it so naturally that you can follow the truly lovely lyrical gestures, dramatic interludes, covert romanticism, and gorgeous orchestration even when your ear is harmonically lost. I'm not sure that's what the composer intended when he aimed to liberate the dissonance, yet he had skills in so many other departments that this music can be relished half in the dark, so to speak. A top recordings.
and the sweeteners? Ax's two Liszt concertos are certainly competitive--he plays with glittering brilliance, and the fastest passagework sounds as civilized as Chopin. I'm not sure these brass-plated warhorses deserve to go to a tea party, though. Ax doesn't act like he's in the middle of a three-ring circus, which is what Liszt intended and what he himself loved. If you are tired of showboating at the keyboard, then Ax's cool but splashy readings, with a notable absence of rubato, are right for you.
In all, given that this CD sells so cheaply at Amazon Marketplace, it's fairly unmissable."