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These 2007 performances have been previously available on DVD and are Barenboim’s third Beethoven cycle in which he appears as soloist. The first thing to strike the listener is the wide recording range and involving soundstage. The orchestra is superb, too, with a gloriously warm sound, and Barenboim’s rapport with the players is palpable. In the First Concerto he plays his own cadenza (the remaining concertos feature Beethoven’s own). Barenboim projects the melodies of the slow movements to perfection (try No 1’s Largo, for instance, with its superb sense of dialogue). If No 2’s orchestral exposition sounds almost Mozartian, it is to match Barenboim’s grace and clarity of articulation; but on the whole he sounds less involved in this piece than the First. The final two concertos are puzzling in that No 4 is the weakest of the set (uninvolving, with some irritating agogics), while No 5, full of energy and depth, is its crowning glory.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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