Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Bronth, Sep 24, 2010.
Just bought this online for under $24 new.
How many CDs and what's the repertoire?
Nice. This should include his famous Diabelli. How about his latest recording?
An awesome disc. The Diabelli Variations are the best around IMHO.
Oneonta. It is near Cooperstown which has the Baseball Hall of Fame. I hope to be moving to your region in Canada within a year or so.
Sokolov is a master... sadly he does not record any more...
I haven't compared them side by side, but I have a soft spot for Serkin's recording.
Never noticed the reflection on the piano lid until now. Very cool.
Here's a review for Robin -
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
The Five Piano Concertos; Piano Sonatas: in C minor Op. 10 No. 1; C minor Op. 13 ("Pathétique"); D minor Op. 31 No. 2 ("Tempest"); E-flat major Op. 31 No. 3; A major Op. 101; E major Op. 109; A-flat major Op. 110; & C minor Op. 111; Bagatelles: Op. 33, Op. 119, & Op. 126; Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Stephen Kovacevich (piano)
BBC Symphony Orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra
Philips- 475 6319(CD)
Performance and Sound - 8 out of 10
Dating from the 1960s and '70s, Stephen Kovacevich's complete Beethoven recordings for Philips are gathered together in a budget-priced boxed set. His objective, somewhat cool demeanor in the concertos radically differs from the full-bodied rhetoric of his erstwhile label-mate Claudio Arrau and lacks the nervous energy conveyed by Leon Fleisher's more inflected style. However, Kovacevich loosens up for an attractively poetic and flexible account of the Fourth. The BBC Symphony responds well to Colin Davis' quest for clearly delineated orchestral strands, crisp rhythms, and unusually forward woodwinds (à la Klemperer/Barenboim) in the first four concertos, although the London Symphony proves even more alluring and polished in the "Emperor". That said, Davis achieved more robust, finer grained, and sonically superior results with the Dresden Staatskapelle in Arrau's digital Beethoven concerto remakes for Philips.
By and large, time has been kinder to the solo selections. Many pianists take Beethoven's optimistic prestissimo marking in the C minor Op. 10 No. 1 sonata's finale with a grain of salt. However, Kovacevich was a true believer, so to speak, and his huge dynamic range, fierce accents, and ultra-precise fingerwork still pack quite a punch. His Philips "Pathétique" is leaner and freer than his relatively straightlaced EMI remake, while conversely, the tauter, more driven Op. 31 Nos. 2 and 3 for Philips differ from the pianist's later breadth and relaxation in lyrical, introspective passages.
Likewise, the last three sonatas on EMI tap into the music's improvisatory spirit with more color and flexibility than the Philips traversals. On the other hand, the Philips Op. 111 boasts cleaner, less pedaled passagework in the first movement and more rigorous tempo relationships in the Arietta. I prefer Philips' Op. 101 for the pianist's superior sense of line and less stressfully projected rhythms in the difficult March and Fugue.
A fussy, calculated air robs many of the Bagatelles of their disarming character so cogently demonstrated in Kovacevich's EMI Op. 119 and 126--he didn't re-record Op. 33. But should Kovacevich choose to remake the Diabelli Variations, he'll have to compete with his extraordinary 1969 reference version. The first 10 variations are breathtakingly controlled and contoured, while the playing grows more heated and emotionally raw as the music progresses and builds. In sum, the best of these performances are well worth Philips' modest asking price.
I have. Serkin's is chunkier, Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich is smoother. Don't forget Schnabel—one of his better sounding recordings, BTW—and the underrated and very subtle Mieczysław Horszowski recording for Vox. I almost like Richter's recording on Philips as much, but not quite. And Arrau's late recording for Philips was a welcome surprise.
I remember that recording—used to have all of these on Philips LPs, recently got the CD of the Diabelli Variations again, for about the fifth time. Preferred Arrau with Haitink in the Fourth Concerto. But I remember really enjoying Bishop's Late Beethoven. He's got some of the reserve and control of Solomon but the sound's much better.
I definitely like his Philips Beethoven more than his EMI Beethoven. The latter has a steely sound and is too aggressive IMO.
Yeah, Arrau and Haitink's 4th is awesome.
Stephen probably listened to too much Annie Fischer.
It is interesting that in order to get the best masculine approach to the Beethoven sonatas, we need to turn to a woman.
As you know I happen to disagree. Annie Fischer's interpretations of the Beethoven sonatas sounded to me as if she was fighting with the Bösendorfer, I didn't like her "pounding" in the more forte passages at all. But, as I said, to each their own.
I'll shut up about this now
re. the diabelli's... there's also a great performance by maria yudina (as well as other recordings by richter worth checking out).
Cool! I drove through the southern tier on my way to visit my brother outside philly back in august-lovely area.
Yudina was cool. Her Op. 111 is tops in my book.
No problem, that has to be some latitude in any group that includes so many different potential points of view. I'm not hearing "banging" but I'm hearing a lot of what Schnabel would sound like with a close, modern recording. Hers are about as contrasty a set of performances as I've heard. For some, her whole approach would be too much.
Who your favorite in this repertoire again?
I don't have a particular favourite. Some of the pianists I like in the sonatas are Wilhelm Kempff (particularly his mono recordings), Solomon, Emil Gilels, Sviatoslav Richter, Maurizio Pollini (but only his early recordings of the late sonatas). I've never heard a complete cycle that I found satisfactory, or perhaps I should say that I've never heard a cycle that I found completely satisfactory.
I wuld have guess this pianist would be first on your list. To me, his approach is very much the opposite of Annie's. I love his tone and overall beauty. His may the most individual approach that I have ever heard. I have the stereo and the mono sets, though I haven't heard all of the stereo one yet. His stereo Op. 110 is wonderful. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes.
Gilels and Richter are two big favorites of mine as well. Solomon I am still getting to know and I also enjoy the early Pollini late set. Perhaps our tastes are no so different after all?
The Mono Kempff is also one of my favorites—glad to have the vinyl reissue, the sound's miraculous. Solomon may be just a little too cool for me, Gilels never really turned me on, Pollini always managed to turn me off. I wish there was was a complete studio set of Sviatoslav Richter—his live Beethoven recordings strike me as very similar to Annie Fischer's approach. And I'll always have the Schnabel around. I know this may seem odd, but Nobody can touch him in the early sonatas.
Funny, I almost said that earlier.
He, Annie and Gulda (Amadeo/Brilliant) are neck and neck for me.
Now playing for a first listen:
Great Operatic Heroines from the Caballe Original Jacket Collection set.
That does indeed look like an original jacket.
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