The Rake's Progress /Chopin Piano Concertos / Garrick Ohlsson / Beethoven Piano Concertos / Rudolf Buchbinder

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op. 19. Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37. Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, OP. 58. Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat, Op. 93 "Emperor."
Rudolf Buchbinder, pianist/conductor/Vienna Philharmonic Orch.
C MAJOR 708904 TT: 186 min.+ bonus 27 min.

CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11. Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21. MONIUSZKO: Bajka
Garrick Ohlsson, piano/Warsaw Philharmonic Orch/Antoni Wit, cond.
IDÉALE AUDIENCE 3078944 TT: 97 min. + 53 min. documentary

STRAVINSKY: The Rake's Progress
Miah Persson (Anne Trulove); Topi Lehtipuu (Tom Rakewell); Clive Bayley (Father Trulove); Matthew Rose (Nick Shadow); Susan Gorton (Mother Goose); Elena Manistina (Baba the Turk);Graham Clark (Sellem); Duncan Rock (Keeper of the Madhouse); Glyndebourne Chorus/London Philharmonic Orch/Vladimir Jurowski, cond.
OPUS ARTE OA BD 7094 TT: 140 min. + 16 min bonus

This set of Beethoven's piano concertos is a winner. Distinguished Czech-born pianist Rudolf Buchbinder (b. 1946) is an old hand at conducting Beethoven from the keyboard; less than a decade ago he recorded all five concertos with the Vienna Symphony (available on Preiser), and this site has mentioned his fine videos of six Mozart concertos (REVIEW). He also has made two recordings of the Brahms concertos as well as all of Beethoven's sonatas. A solid musician by all standards, and, played on the Blu Ray disk, his performances have been recorded with uncommon video and audio quality. Only one disk is required for Blu Ray, two for regular DVD. This is a musical experience of the highest musical quality. There is a 12-minute "musical conversation" between Buchbinder and distinguished musicologist Joachim Kaiser ; this adds little to the presentation.

Garrick Ohlsson's performances of the two Chopin piano concertos with Antoni Wit and the Warsaw Philharmonic was issued about two years ago and mentioned on this site (REVIEW). That issue took 2 DVDs, the second devoted to Gerald Caillat's film The Art of Chopin. For details about this, check the earlier review. Now we have this Blu Ray issue that contains the concert (including Moniuszko's rather boring The Fairy Tale that opened the concert), as well as the fascinating documentary. It is a pleasure to watch Ohlsson play this music so close to him, sounding and looking better than ever via the improved processing.

Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress has not lacked recordings. On CD we have versions conducted by Kent Nagano, Riccardo Chailly, James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and two by the composer. On DVD there is a Brussels performance conducted by Kazushi Ono, and from Glyndebourne with Bernard Haitink. Now we have another version from Glyndebourne, again the widely-acclaimed production designed by David Hockney and directed by John Cox. It is a brilliant success, a spectacular performance with stunning sets and lighting. The cast could not be bettered, and, viewed on the Blu Ray version, it is a visual knock-out, with effective surround sound. This is a terrific recording in every way.

R.E.B. (January 2012)