Now many of the world’s most serious and significant pianists (Schnabel, Serkin, Brendel, Goode, etc.) have devoted a great deal of thoughtful study to the Beethoven sonatas; in general, performance of this music represents a level of erudition and deep contemplation probably unequaled by the works of any other mainstream composer. Serious pianists study every aspect of these works in minute detail; virtually everything is taken into account except those instruments which inspired Beethoven, and which he had in mind when he composed.
Recorded over 13 years between 1975 and 1988, Murray Perahia's cycle of the complete piano concertos of Mozart, including the concert rondos and double concertos, remains perhaps the most enduring monument to his art. What is it about Perahia's art, some skeptics might ask, that is worth enduring? For one thing, as this 12-disc set amply demonstrates, there is his incredible tone. Clear as a bell, bright as the sky, and deep as the ocean, Perahia's tone is not only one of the wonders of the age, it's admirably suited to the pellucid loveliness of Mozart's music.
Recorded live in 1983, Alfred Brendel's third go-round with these works drastically improves on his previous Beethoven concerto cycles. He finds a calmer, more direct route to the Emperor Concerto, although the Fourth's first movement is still pock-marked with finicky phrase adjustments that pull focus from the music's poetic arcs. Levine provides sympathetic and alert support, yet is much more than a mere deferential accompanist.
Glenn Gould and Leonard Bernstein bring an attractive regal pomp and broad rhetoric to the Third Concerto, yet these qualities work to the more lyrical Fourth's disadvantage. Gould's well-oiled fingers zip rather mechanically through the outer movements in the first two concertos, and he scrutinizes the Emperor with the inquiring mind of a brilliant crank.
The benchmark recording of Beethoven Piano concertos with incomparable Leon Fleisher and George Szell.
As one customer form amazon.com wrote: “This is an outstanding recording. Leon Fleischer and George Szell are a match made in heaven. The standouts in this collection are the Beethoven 4th and the Mozart 25th. George Szell was one of the absolute best conductors of concerti. The musicality and ensemble playing are flawless. The recording of the Mozart 25th is the best I've ever heard. Don't overlook one of Mozart's later masterpieces played so flawlessly. This particular work comes off best with a large modern orchestra,like the CSO, as opposed to a smaller ensemble. Great performances!”
Other reviews from Amazon.com
It's a wonderful treat to find an album whose interest rests equally on its musical as well as historical merits. As such, the present two-disc sets of the complete Rachmaninoff concertos and Paganini Rhapsody cannot be beat. The three pianists heard here – Richter, Zak, and Oborin – represent the pinnacle of postwar Russian pianists. Richter is most likely the one still known to the majority of American listeners. But Zak (who was immensely influential not only as a performer but as a pedagogue) and Oborin (who was the first winner of the Chopin Competition) were recognized equally during their lifetimes. All three had a profound and obvious command of Rachmaninoff, and the performances heard here clearly demonstrate this fact.