Rudolf Serkin's 1964 recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto in C minor is surely among the greatest recordings of the work ever made, and certainly his finest performance of the work. The energy and enthusiasm and even passion he brings to Concerto in C minor is overwhelming, and indeed, it overwhelms Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, who accompany Serkin with the sort of commitment that only a conductor and orchestra give to soloists when they are deeply inspired. But while Serkin's 1962 recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto in E flat major is also surely among the greatest recordings of the work ever made, it is not quite Serkin's finest recording of the work.
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Strathclyde Concertos, all premièred by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, are among his most significant contributions to the concerto genre. Concerto No 3 for Horn and Trumpet marks a turning point in the cycle of ten concertos by employing multiple soloists, and stands in the lineage of works by Haydn, Mozart and Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. Concerto No 4 explores the clarinet’s lyrical Mozartian heritage, alongside subtle percussive effects and agile virtuosity.
"The five piano concertos of St.-Saens are not frequently heard and that is a shame in view of the endless repeats of the Tchaikovsky, Grieg and Schumann warhorses. They are all well-composed examples of the best of French instrumental music of the later 19th century and full of lovely melodies that would appeal greatly to concert audiences. I hadn’t enjoyed any of them for some time and it was a pleasure to have these two concertos in enveloping hi-res surround. … Orchestration is very colorful, with solos originating in the winds and strings." 4/5 ~audiophile-audition
The first thing to note about this issue is the considerable generosity in playing length enabling all five concertos to be accommodated on the one disc. Add to that the undisputed reputation of Barenboim over many years as a highly respected interpreter of Beethoven coupled with an equally respected orchestra and recording company and the whole package seems unbeatable. As has been normal for Barenboim for many years, he directs from the keyboard and this has a clear unifying effect on the interpretation being offered…
The early compositions of the internationally renowned Finnish composer, Einojuhani Rautavaara, draw on the Nordic classicism of Sibelius and Nielsen, as well as the influences of Bartók, Shostakovich and folk music. Although, during the 1960s, Rautavaara experimented with avant-garde compositional techniques, the First Piano Concerto, written in 1969 (on 8.554147), marked another significant turning point as the composer sought, in his own words, to evoke "the entire rich grandeur of the instrument." In the Second Piano Concerto of 1989, Rautavaara finds an intriguing accommodation between traditional and more radical elements. His Third Piano Concerto, written in 1998 for Vladimir Ashkenazy, is reminiscent of Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in its austere beauty, while the orchestral fantasia Isle of Bliss was inspired by a poem by the Finnish national poet Aleksis Kivi, depicting the mythical concept of the island paradise.