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CD Review

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Concertos

  • Piano Concerto #1 in C Major, Op. 15 (1795)
  • Piano Concerto #2, Op. 19 (1795)
  • Piano Concerto #3 in C minor, Op. 37 (1800)
  • Piano Concerto #4 in G Major, Op. 58 (1804)
Emil Gilels, piano
Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell
EMI 69506 ADD 2CDs 136:05
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Let's skip to the last line first. This two-disc set is probably the finest way to add all of the "earlier" Beethoven Piano Concerti to your collection. The two-disc set is inexpensive, the remasterings are excellent, the performances and performers are first rate. What else can I say?

Szell and Gilels cast the first two concerti in a classical mode. The first concerto (which was actually the second, but that's another story) in particular sounds like it might be by Mozart. The playing is crisp and the perfection of the Cleveland Orchestra is immaculate. The slightly dry acoustic adds to the clarity of the performances as well as contributing to the "classical" interpretation. The 3rd and 4th piano concerti are a bit more "Beethovian" in comparison with the first two. Still, it is a Beethoven who is a classical composer in these interpretations. Occasionally the sound gets a tad shrill in the louder passages, but this is not a major problem. The piano tone is wonderful and Gilels' digital prowess is, again, awesome. While I might opt for different recordings of some particular concerti, such as Moravec in the Beethoven 4th, I strongly recommend this set to all of you.

Short and to the point.

Copyright © 1997, Robert Stumpf II