Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

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Seán
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Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Seán » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:10 am

I am looking for another complete set of the Mozart Piano Concerto cycle. I am considering getting the Alfred Brendel set on Decca with the ASMF conducted by Neville Marriner. This is a 10 CD set of concertos 5 to 21 inclusive.
Do you have any strong feelings about these recordings? I should add that I really enjoy Brendel's performances of Beethoven's works so I am favourably disposed towards my getting this box set.
Seán

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by stefanher » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:22 am

Not my cup of tea but I must admit I think Brendel is overrated even in the Austro- German repertoire.

For complete sets played with grace, feeling & spirituality try Perahia & the early Barenboim. For "political correctness" Brendel & Uchida are ideal- & boring. As for period instrument- don't get me started but I prefer the unfinished recordings by Cohen to the Bilson/Gardiner ones. Have one or two recordings with Staier but they're waiting to be heard. I aslo ahve the complete Anda set which id really a non-starter. Can't comment on Ashkenazy's or Shelley's traversals amongst many others.

Individual recrdings by Haskil & Solomon are wonderful.

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by josé echenique » Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:03 am

I like some of Brendel´s performances, like Piano Concerto 25th which was recorded live and is more alive than most of his studio efforts.
My personal favorite cycle is Jos van Immerseel´s with Anima Eterna in Channel Classics, but the few recordings Andreas Staier made with the Concerto Köln for TELDEC could be the finest of all. I really hope one day he records a complete cycle.

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by maestrob » Fri Dec 17, 2010 10:39 am

Highly recommend the Anda set over Brendel, who tends to be lackluster IMHO. Anda is full of verve and energy: the set has been in print since it was issued in the 1970's, and has long been a favorite. Uchida/Tate take a different approach: softer, more laid back, but beautiful in its own way. Anda plays the first four concerti, while Uchida does not.

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by rogch » Fri Dec 17, 2010 10:53 am

I have a Double Decca with some of the last concertos, i assume these are the same recordings as in the complete set. I was a little disappointed in these recordings, i feel they lack character. But i have not listened to them very often so i can not guarantee that this will be my final verdict. Mitsuko Uchida and the English Chamber Orchestra are definitely not lacking in character in the recordings i have heard. The tempi can be a little slow, but otherwise i think these are very good performances. The English Chamber Orchestra has played on many good Mozart records over the years.

The set with Jos van Immerseel and Anima Eterna is a must. Surprisingly, there are not too many period instrument sets out there. But i don't feel i need another one as long as i have this one. On modern instruments, the set with Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Philharmonic should be a very good one. Unfortunately, it is a little uneven and the sound is quite bad for a relatively new set. But some of the performances are very good. And there is a bonus DVD with concert performances of the concertos for two or three pianos, this is very enjoyable. Barenboim has also recorded a set with the English Chamber Orchestra, i have not heard that one.

Geza Anda is often brilliant in his set on Deutsche Grammophon. There are very few bad performances there, but some of them are perhaps a little heavy handed. Many critics like Murray Perahia and the English Chamber Orchestra (again!). I thought they were a little boring the last time i heard some of these performances, but it is a while ago. I do not own this set.

Imogen Cooper and the Northern Sinfonia have recently recorded some good performances of some of the concertos on Avie. I don't know if they are planing a set, three records have been released so far.
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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by johnQpublic » Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:12 am

I love Brendel's Mozart...with Mackerras on Philips.
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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Fergus » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:58 pm

I cannot comment on Brendel Seán as I have not heard it but I will say that I bought the Perahia set a long time ago and I have never felt the need to move away from it because it is so good. I have been tempted to get the Anda set mentioned above however but have not done so yet.

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by stenka razin » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:10 pm

sean, Brendel is good, but Perahia, Uchida and Anda are better. Also do not forget Ashkenazy and Barenboim who also provide wonderful overall complete sets, my friend. 8)
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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Seán » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:54 pm

stenka razin wrote:sean, Brendel is good, but Perahia, Uchida and Anda are better. Also do not forget Ashkenazy and Barenboim who also provide wonderful overall complete sets, my friend. 8)
Ashkenazy & Barenboim? that's interesting Mel, I'm glad you said that as the Barenboim set is definitely available at a reasonable price, I must look out for Ashkenazy.
Last edited by Seán on Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:01 pm

I can't say I really care for Brendel's Mozart concertos, and his accompanist certainly doesn't help matters. I'd agree with others who have recommended the Anda set, which is my favorite in terms of the soloist (the Salzburg Mozarteum however isn't the best orchestra in the world.) The Perahia set is also worth a long look, it is consistently good to great across the board. It also includes the concerti for 2 & 3 pianos, something the Anda set does not have.

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:03 pm

Don't get it, Perahia on Sony is far superior...so is Barenboim too...but buy the Perahia, you will not regret it...Uchida suffers from Tate's Conducting...

You say getting 'another' Set, which one do you have already...
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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Seán » Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:14 pm

Chalkperson wrote:Don't get it, Perahia on Sony is far superior...so is Barenboim too...but buy the Perahia, you will not regret it...Uchida suffers from Tate's Conducting...

You say getting 'another' Set, which one do you have already...
I have the Derek Han with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Paul Freeman on Brilliant Classics, it doesn't do much for me to be honest. I am looking for something to "put fire in my belly", so to speak. :wink: So Perhia and Barenboim then?
Seán

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by arthound » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:11 pm

Hi Sean

I seem to be in the minority here but I enjoy quite a lot of Brendel's Mozart - particularly the recordings he has made with Mackerras but also his earlier set. I would probably go with the Perahia first though. And if you ever see these going cheaply then try to grab them!

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:34 am

josé echenique wrote:I like some of Brendel´s performances, like Piano Concerto 25th which was recorded live and is more alive than most of his studio efforts.
My personal favorite cycle is Jos van Immerseel´s with Anima Eterna in Channel Classics, but the few recordings Andreas Staier made with the Concerto Köln for TELDEC could be the finest of all. I really hope one day he records a complete cycle.
Immerseel's Box is well worth buying...but...today I bought the first Volume of Roland Brautigam's Cycle in BIS, they are SACD'S too
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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:37 am

johnQpublic wrote:I love Brendel's Mozart...with Mackerras on Philips.
Agreed...
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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by josé echenique » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:39 am

Chalkperson wrote:
josé echenique wrote:I like some of Brendel´s performances, like Piano Concerto 25th which was recorded live and is more alive than most of his studio efforts.
My personal favorite cycle is Jos van Immerseel´s with Anima Eterna in Channel Classics, but the few recordings Andreas Staier made with the Concerto Köln for TELDEC could be the finest of all. I really hope one day he records a complete cycle.
Immerseel's Box is well worth buying...but...today I bought the first Volume of Roland Brautigam's Cycle in BIS, they are SACD'S too
I have the sonatas with Brautigam and just a few days ago I was wondering about the concertos.
Do please tell us about them.

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:43 am

Seán wrote:I have the Derek Han with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Paul Freeman on Brilliant Classics, it doesn't do much for me to be honest. I am looking for something to "put fire in my belly", so to speak. :wink: So Perhia and Barenboim then?
Or, get Perahia for the Box and ask us for a list of our favourite Concertos on single (our double) discs...and we all know that there are hundreds of recordings of the Late ones, let's hear suggestions for the less obvious ones...like...

Sviatoslav Richter - Moscow Chamber Orchestra - Rudolf Barshai - Concertos Nos. 1+5+18 on DoReMi
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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Lance » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:01 am

The Géza Anda set on DGG probably falls in the middle of the pros and cons in terms of listener appeal. I've had it for a long, long time and really enjoy it, mostly for the concertos that are not performed as regularly as Nos. 20 through 27. Simply said, Anda was a genius with Mozart's music. Perahia's is a very polished set and one you won't regret having. If you simplyi have to have one complete edition, I would vote for either of those just mentioned. I must also throw out a plaudit for the ones I've heard by Jeno Jando on Naxos, especially the earliest concerti, starting with No. 1, which is attributed to Mozart. Jeno Jando has a flair for this music and to me, it really shows. Otherwise, I would advise you to collect single performances by such pianists as Solomon, Rubinstein (a glorious No. 20), Clara Haskil, and others. I have heard the Brendel and while I greatly admire him as pianist (especially his earliest efforts on the Vox label), I am not inclined to go for his complete set nor, especially, any of those by Barenboim, the latter with whom I seem to have a lot of trouble with, especially during the last year or so. Anyway, please let us know what you're going to get!
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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by John F » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:54 am

I haven't heard Brendel's rerecordings with Marriner and Mackerras, but his first versions for Philips strike me as rather dry and even somehow ironic, qualities that work against the sensual and dramatic character of the music rather than for it. Maybe the later versions are different.

As usual, and like Lance, I wouldn't pick one pianist for the whole repertory, and I never have. And it's not just about the pianist. In some concertos such as #22 (K.482), the orchestra's woodwinds are so important, not just in the quantity but the quality of their music, right from the very first bars, that I'd pay as much attention to the orchestra, with or without the conductor, as to the soloist. And to the orchestral balance, with the winds given soloistic prominence. This version isn't good enough in that respect, with the winds rather recessed into the orchestra, but you see what I mean about the music:



If you already have some of the concertos and know them well, the second version to have would be with Robert Levin as the pianist. Averse as I am to performances on antique instruments, I make an exception for Levin because of his extraordinary understanding of Mozart's music and grasp of the style. He improvises not only ornaments in his part but whole cadenzas, a different one for each performance of the same concerto, and in as close to Mozartean style as anyone but Mozart has gotten. You can really learn from this. And poker-faced as his conductor is (it's Christopher Hogwood), and despite the characterless wind playing, at least the balance is right:



Oh, and about Levin's cadenzas, here's his take on the first movement of Concerto #23, videotaped live. Might be hard to believe that he's improvising it on the spur of the moment, but trust me, that's what he does. It's altogether different from what you'll hear on his recording with Hogwood:



Maybe not useful to you if you're bent on getting a complete set, but there it is.
John Francis

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Fergus » Sun Dec 19, 2010 8:38 am

An excellent post John....I both thoroughly enjoyed reading it and also learned something from it :D

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by bombasticDarren » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:17 am

Seán wrote:I am looking for another complete set of the Mozart Piano Concerto cycle. I am considering getting the Alfred Brendel set on Decca with the ASMF conducted by Neville Marriner. This is a 10 CD set of concertos 5 to 21 inclusive.
Do you have any strong feelings about these recordings? I should add that I really enjoy Brendel's performances of Beethoven's works so I am favourably disposed towards my getting this box set.
I like the Brendel/Marriner selections I have on Philips Duo - not the most dynamic recordings but the performances are assured and the accompaniment in nicely measured. I must advocate yet again for Perahia, and I hope that Anda remains part of my listening for years to come. What else to I like? Well, I love the tidbits by Fischer, Barenboim (BPO), Gulda, Kempff, Pires, Curzon, Bernstein, Casadesus and Gilels that litter my collection of this particular ouevre. A special note also for the Bilson/Gardiner discs I am currently adding to my collection :D

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Lance » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:26 pm

Any of the Clifford Curzon performances and collaborations of Mozart are extraordinary and most memorable in every respect. Curzon didn't play anything without really digging into every aspect of the music and would often not sanction release of some of his recordings, which came out after his passing - and were found to be exceptional, nonetheles. Curzon was never a showman. I feel pretty much the same way with Edwin Fischer's Mozart concertos, and those recorded by Artur Schnabel and Wanda Landowska.

It was interesting to read what John Francis said about Robert Levin. I, too, am not normally not attracted to antique keyboard instrument recordings (exception is the harpsichord), but I have been attracted to just about everything I've heard coming from Robert Levin. He's an incredibly wonderful pianist whether he's playing an original instrument or a full-fledged concert grand piano. His musicianship is impeccable - and most memorable.
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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Seán » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:02 pm

John F, thanks for your well informed and highly interesting post. Thanks to everybody else too who responded. So now it looks as I will give Brendel a miss and I may get the Perahia set instead. I will see if the Immerseel can be bought for a reasonable price, the Barenboim is available too.
Seán

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by Bösendorfer » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:34 am

Since Uchida was mentioned: I once borrowed the complete set and found that in some concertos her playing really put me off! It's as if she doesn't dare to fully press the keys because it's Mozart's music... On the other hand, in some of the later concertos her playing sounds natural and I liked it.

If you consider getting a set that isn't complete, this one is wonderful (it contains #s 9, 13, 19, 20, 23, 24, 27, a rondo, some solo piano music, and some violin sonatas with Grumiaux):

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...and it's just 20 euros at jpc.

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by John F » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:07 am

Nosing around on YouTube, I came across this video of Vladimir Horowitz and Carlo Maria Giulini in Mozart's Concerto #23. They made a formal studio recording for DG, but then it seems they played through the concerto for the cameras.

In the finale Horowitz is really enjoying the music, he gets carried away and can't help "conducting" when he isn't playing. And while no one would mistake his style for that of Robert Levin, Horowitz knows how to accompany the orchestra when that's what's happening in the music. A merry Christmas to all!

John Francis

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Re: Opinions sought on Brendel's Mozart Concerto set

Post by John F » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:09 am

Nosing around on YouTube, I came across this video of Vladimir Horowitz and Carlo Maria Giulini in Mozart's Concerto #23. They made a formal studio recording for DG, but then it seems they played through the concerto for the cameras.

In the finale Horowitz is really enjoying the music, he gets carried away and can't help "conducting" when he isn't playing. And while no one would mistake his style for that of Robert Levin, both believe in full-blooded Mozart, and Horowitz knows how to accompany the orchestra when that's what's happening in the music. A merry Christmas to all!

John Francis

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