This particular recording has been a favourite of mine since its initial release nearly 30 years ago. Stephen Kovacevich (or Bishop-Kovacevich. if you prefer) appeals as 1 of those pianists whose playing is rather forthright & precise, giving us here a rather lyrical presentation of the concerti full of grace & good demeanor. A little on the light side compared to those who pound out their Beethovens some would think.
Paramax Films captured the concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at its resident venue of Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv in July 2015 conducted by Zubin Mehta and starring Georgian concert pianist Khatia Buniatishvili. The film showcases a performance of the piano’s most famous orchestral repertoire; Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1 and Liszt’s virtuosic Piano Concerto No 2 with its waves of sound.
Guiomar Novaes' life story has been the stuff of legend in the classical world for decades and this CD is clear evidence why none other than Claude Debussy himself helped single her out for greatness as a teenage prodigy. Recorded when she was in her 50's, she's absolutely stupendous, pulling off difficult passage after passage with fabulous effortlessness, her trademark. But forget the 'feminine piano' tag that has been given to her at times, this CD shows she can bring on the 'thunder and lightning' whenever necessary. Thanks to Vox Box Legends for this magnificent digitally mastered 2 CD set, the wonderful sound, and very detailed, extensive liner notes that put most other liner notes to shame.
If these performances of Beethoven's earlier Piano Trios by Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Lynn Harrell are suave and sophisticated with a soupçon of sentimentality, well, that's what modern performance practice was like in the '80s. And if that sounds like an appealing manner in which to perform Beethoven's earlier Piano Trios, this is the recording to hear. Perlman, Ashkenazy, and Harrell lean into Beethoven's music, singing everything grandly, sounding everything gloriously, and souping everything up completely. One might argue that Beethoven's Piano Trios, Op. 1, are too Viennese High Classical to respond well to their approach, that the works seem more maimed and mauled then persuasively performed, but one cannot deny that Perlman, Ashkenazy, and Harrell put every iota of their expressivity and virtuosity into their overpowering performances. EMI's early digital sound has been pleasantly remastered for this CD reissue.