Maurizio Pollini's late 1970s film recordings of Beethoven Piano Concertos 3 and 5; Mozart Piano Concertos 19 and 23; and Brahms Piano Concerto 2 have it all: great pianism, beautiful playing by the Vienna Philharmonic, magnificent conducting by Karl Bohm (Beethoven, Mozart) and Claudio Abbado (Brahms), all adding up to one thing: a beautiful experience. These DVDs are a feast for the ears: great audio, and the eyes: great video. The 1970s Unitel films used in this DG release have held up very well in the vaults: there are no glitches or imperfections in the picture. The camera work is also excellent, and serves the music being performed.
There is no audience, and the recording venue: Vienna's Musikvereien, has wonderful acoustics - one of the best concert halls in the civilized world. It was worth alot to me to see Karl Bohm smile at Maurizio Pollini at the beginning of I, of Mozart's Piano Concerto 19 with it's humorous, scherzo like theme which begins the concerto. Highly recommended!
This key title is being reissued at a special price as part of the celebration of Rostropovich - "Cellist of the Century". Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich was born in Baku, USSR on March 27, 1927. His first name means "avenged glory"; he is familiarly known by the root of the name, "Slava," which means "glory." His father, Leopold, was an excellent cellist, and after 1931, a teacher at the Gnesin Institute, Moscow after attending the Moscow Conservatory. Slava's mother was an accomplished pianist. The family moved to Moscow in 1931; Slava had already begun cello studies with his father and continued them there. His first public appearance was at eight years of age. In 1939, he entered the Central Music School, studying there until 1941.
This cd brings out some amazing aspects of the Brahms sextets. Brahms playing in general have never been close to this! The instruments are strung with gut strings, as the instruments were at the time it was written, which creates some really unique sounds and gives an amazingly free bowing phrasing. When the steel-string sonorities and the constant vibrato has been removed, a pure and vital sound is created which gives so much to the music of Johannes Brahms, at least in the sextets.
It's a recording that just a few years ago would have been mainstream: a "name" pianist (albeit one much less well known in the U.S. than elsehwere), who has been playing Mozart's piano concertos since childhood, joins forces with a name conductor with whom she has frequently collaborated, leading a modern-instrument orchestra of some 70 players, with the results released on a major international-conglomerate label. Now it's distinctly unusual. But lo, there's value in the old ways. Portuguese-Brazilian pianist Maria-João Pires is a lifelong Mozart specialist, but she still has new things to say in two of Mozart's most popular piano concertos. You can chalk it up to her Buddhist outlook if you like: her readings of the Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat major, K. 595, and Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, might be described as detached without being lifeless. Her approach is most startling in the Piano Concerto No. 20, where her no-drama shaping of the material runs sharply counter to type. Sample the piano's entrance in the first movement, where it offers a twisting, tense elaboration of the main theme that is far removed from its source material. Generally pianists use this to raise the tension level, but Pires lets the unusually shaped, chromatic line speak for itself with fine effect.
Julius Katchen performs the composer's work whom he most favored; again, highly-esteemed recordings among classical cognoscenti.