Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Concerto No. 2; Piano Concerto No. 3; Piano Concerto No. 4; Violin Concerto

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Philips Duo
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Concerto No. 2; Piano Concerto No. 3; Piano Concerto No. 4; Violin Concerto
PERFORMER: Stephen Kovacevich, Claudio Arrau, Lidia Grychtolówna (piano), Arthur Grumiaux, Henryk Szeryng, Herman Krebbers (violin), János Starker (cello); BBC SO, LSO/Colin Davis, New Philharmonia Orchestra/Eliahu Inbal, Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra/Bernard Ha
CATALOGUE NO: 442 577-2, 442 580-2 ADD (1960-75)
This isn’t quite complete; it omits the rather pedestrian piano transcription of the Violin Concerto. But it includes Beethoven’s early E flat Piano Concerto (WoO 4), written when he was 14 and reconstructed from a contemporary copyist’s manuscript. Sadly, this prophetic work sounds as if it was recorded in an aircraft hangar, and the wind is out of tune. Otherwise, this is as good a way as any of collecting the concertos at a reasonable price. The discs are generously filled, the playing is mostly expressive and controlled, the tempi well chosen, the dynamics faithfully observed. Only WoO 4 lets it down. Wadham Sutton

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