The appeal of this release hinges more on its sound quality than on the quality of its well-known and excellent performances. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound very good. One can more or less hear Richter – details of articulation occasionally get lost, inner voices are sometimes obscured, and bigger sonorities are often opaque – but he sounds like he's miles away. One can hear Sanderling and the USSR Radio & Television Symphony Orchestra only faintly when they're quiet, somewhat better when they're louder, and all too well when they're really loud. There have been better releases of these recordings in the past – many listeners prefer the 1995 BMG-Melodiya issues – and there will likely be better releases in the future. This one's not worth it except for Richter specialists who have to have every release of every performance Richter ever recorded.
Glenn Gould was this century's greatest Bach player, so these legendary recordings are self-recommending. While other fine pianists have made powerful statements in this music, no one sounds anything like Gould. His phenomenal clarity of articulation, digital control, and well, just plain interesting way with the music set him completely apart from the competition. With playing of this individuality and quality, it's pointless to engage in any debate with respect to the appropriateness of the piano versus the harpsichord. Scholars and pedants may continue to argue, but the fact is, it doesn't matter. Great musicianship always serves great music best.-David Hurwitz
Hélène Grimaud's performances on this disc a coupling of Beethoven "Emperor" Piano Concerto with his Piano Sonata in A major, Op. 101 are truly fantastic. Her technique is essentially untouchable and her tone is surprisingly colorful. And, as in her previous recordings, her interpretations are outrageous. With Vladimir Jurowski and the Dresden Staatskapelle in the Concerto, Grimaud is unafraid to do whatever she wants with balance and tempos.
For the casual listener, there are two impediments to enjoying this disc. First, the works are transcriptions of orchestral works for chamber ensembles, and second, both transcriptions are played on a light-toned fortepiano and cat-gutted stringed instruments. But for the dedicated listener who knows and loves Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 and Piano Concerto No. 4 and who accepts and enjoys period instruments, this disc will be pure enjoyment.