Author Topic: Bartok's piano concertos  (Read 5720 times)

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sidoze

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2007, 03:27:16 PM »
Anda would be my first choice, too. If you are considering incomplete sets at all, I would get this one:



conductor isn't up for it IMO

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[Kovacevich] brutalizes the music.

agreed.

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Well, as long as we're singling individual recordings out, Katchen/Kertesz was my imprint recording of the 3rd, one of my favorite recordings of anything.  They are very poetic in the middle movement and thrilling in the outer movements.

That was my favourite performance of the 3rd too.

BorisG

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #21 on: November 08, 2007, 09:31:18 PM »
That Argerich and Dutoit recording probably would be a very good recording, if it was one's listening debut for these Prokofiev and Bartok works. Laid back, no edge, good sound.

In the past I have enjoyed Prokofiev and Bartok from Argerich, and Bartok from Dutoit. With this effort, no sale.

Offline George

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #22 on: January 27, 2021, 12:53:53 PM »
Just read through the thread. People still feel the same (negatively) about Kovacevich?
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Offline amw

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #23 on: January 27, 2021, 01:00:03 PM »
I like Kovacevich personally. I don't remember why.

Offline George

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #24 on: January 27, 2021, 01:05:50 PM »
I like Kovacevich personally. I don't remember why.

I am listening to his set now, comparing it to Anda. My first impression is that Kovacevich benefits from much better, clearer sound and the performance is more energetic.
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Offline MusicTurner

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #25 on: January 27, 2021, 01:15:18 PM »
Kocsis/Fischer, including Kocsis/Lehel in the 1st;
Anda/Fricsay;
Farnadi/Scherchen in 2+3;
Richter/Svetlanov in 2;
Argerich in 3 (Vedernikov or Dutoit)

Ditta B/Serly in 3: very much past her prime.

« Last Edit: January 27, 2021, 01:22:30 PM by MusicTurner »

Offline Jo498

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #26 on: January 27, 2021, 01:36:53 PM »
To clarify Kocsis/Lehel is a different recording (of 1+2 only, AFAIK) on a different label (hungaroton, later Capriccio) from the early 1970s whereas Kocsis/Fischer has everything including the Scherzo and Rhapsody an recorded in the mid 1980s.

I also remember Kovacevich/Davis as very good. I really should listen to all of my recordings, but apparently I liked them enough in the past to keep. I also have Anda/Fricsay, Pollini/Abbado (1+2). And a few #3 in some pianist boxes.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline DavidW

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #27 on: January 27, 2021, 01:39:30 PM »
I am listening to his set now, comparing it to Anda. My first impression is that Kovacevich benefits from much better, clearer sound and the performance is more energetic.

I'll have to give it a listen.  I only listen to Anda.  I was surprised to see that I didn't post on this thread.  Maybe I was too busy (that was when I got my first job).

Offline MusicTurner

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #28 on: January 27, 2021, 01:51:33 PM »
To clarify Kocsis/Lehel is a different recording (of 1+2 only, AFAIK) on a different label (hungaroton, later Capriccio) from the early 1970s whereas Kocsis/Fischer has everything including the Scherzo and Rhapsody an recorded in the mid 1980s.

I also remember Kovacevich/Davis as very good. I really should listen to all of my recordings, but apparently I liked them enough in the past to keep. I also have Anda/Fricsay, Pollini/Abbado (1+2). And a few #3 in some pianist boxes.

Yes, Kocsis/Lehel in 1+2 has some good accents in the 1st Concerto's 1st Movement, that I've never heard elsewhere, not in the Fischer set either.

Offline Todd

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #29 on: January 27, 2021, 03:27:31 PM »
Relistened to the recordings, and the performances become increasingly unsatisfactory with each concerto.  The First is fine, with Kovecevich's hard-hitting style, and Davis' accompaniment sounding fine.  The Second is a bit more intense than I prefer, and the Third is just too brutal for the music.  Kocsis and Schiff are my go-tos now.
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Offline amw

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #30 on: January 27, 2021, 04:27:55 PM »
I have Kocsis Philips, Kovacevich, Anda DG & Neos, Jandó, plus Pollini 1+2 and some isolated recordings of 3. I presumably thought all of them were good enough to keep at some point (something I evidently didn’t think about the Boulez multi-pianist set, or Bavouzet, or Sandór, or maybe those just slipped through the cracks). I will listen to all of them in close proximity someday and see if I can identify any major drawbacks. But thanks to his very detailed interpretive markings Bartók is quite easy to interpret correctly; it’s something I have always appreciated about his music.

Offline DavidW

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #31 on: January 28, 2021, 04:57:04 PM »
I tried out the Kovacevich... not a fan.  It is the microphone sounds like it was placed between his hands on the piano.  Very aggressive and overly bright.  And since Kovacevich is already an aggressive pianist (just check out his Beethoven PS cycle) it doesn't do any favors.  Unlike the rest of you I don't even like the SQ for the orchestra.  The Anda/Fricsay has better bass and instrument separation and performance wise is assertive but more musical than Kovacevich/Davis.  I turned back to that.  It is my fav (A/F).  I'm not fixated on that recording btw.  I mostly turn to solo piano and chamber music for Bartok.

Offline George

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #32 on: January 28, 2021, 05:03:39 PM »
I tried out the Kovacevich... not a fan.  It is the microphone sounds like it was placed between his hands on the piano.  Very aggressive and overly bright.  And since Kovacevich is already an aggressive pianist (just check out his Beethoven PS cycle) it doesn't do any favors.  Unlike the rest of you I don't even like the SQ for the orchestra.  The Anda/Fricsay has better bass and instrument separation and performance wise is assertive but more musical than Kovacevich/Davis.  I turned back to that.  It is my fav (A/F).  I'm not fixated on that recording btw.  I mostly turn to solo piano and chamber music for Bartok.

Well said. And for me, a good argument for listening to entire movement when comparing two recordings, rather than short (60 second) samples, for in short bursts I like Kova/Davis a lot. After a whole movement, it gets a bit much, especially in the 3rd PC, as Todd pointed out.
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #33 on: January 29, 2021, 04:34:08 AM »
I find Kocisis (with Fischer) a bit hard-hitting too, but it may be the miking like in Kovacevich's Beethoven sonatas, which suffer from excessive close miking. Schiff strikes the ideal balance between the lyrical and the more percussive sections IMO, as do Anda and Sandor.
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #34 on: January 29, 2021, 12:34:44 PM »
I agree that the sound quality is not the greatest for Kovacevich/Davis. No space. However, I don't find it too brittle, unpleasant or percussive. (Whereas unfortunately some of his EMI LvB sonatas tend to that, I had 3 or 4 singles of that series and got rid of all but one, the 1970s Philips Beethoven has better SQ and is also less brutal.)
Afterwards I listened to Pollini/Abbado in 1 and this is even more aggressive (appropriately so) but the sound is better, although still rather dry.

There must be a recording or more from the last ~20 years in really good sound, I guess.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline hvbias

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #35 on: January 30, 2021, 07:47:18 AM »
I find Kocisis (with Fischer) a bit hard-hitting too, but it may be the miking like in Kovacevich's Beethoven sonatas, which suffer from excessive close miking. Schiff strikes the ideal balance between the lyrical and the more percussive sections IMO, as do Anda and Sandor.

Interestingly his Onyx recording of Diabelli Variations made way after either Beethoven Piano Sonata cycle is also rather closely miked. But it seems to work wonders in here, it's one of the most hard hitting Diabellis I've heard, and not in a bad way ala monochromatic/uniformity of approach of Pollini.

Variation 17 for instance and that aggressive left hand playing and the clear delineation with the right makes for the most thrilling version I've ever heard.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #36 on: January 30, 2021, 07:56:31 AM »
Just read through the thread. People still feel the same (negatively) about Kovacevich?

He’s not a top choice for me as I don’t think Colin Davis was the right man for the job, IMHO. I do think Kovacevich is an excellent pianist, but it seems the recording is a mismatch and topples as a result. Some favorites in these works (in no particular order): Schiff/Fischer, Ashkenazy/Solti and Anda/Fricsay. I also liked the Pollini/Abbado recording of the 1st and 2nd PC on DG. I should revisit the Kocsis/Fischer recordings as I recall I had mixed feelings about these performances and it’s strange as I absolutely think Kocsis is a first-rate pianist, but something just didn’t seem quite connected to me in these performances. I LOVE Kocsis’ recordings of the solo piano music, however.
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Bartok's piano concertos
« Reply #37 on: February 01, 2021, 04:54:01 AM »
I actually listened to all of my single discs of the concertos now (disregarding a few #3 in historical boxes/anthologies and although I could not be bothered to listen again at the end to the Kovacevich I had started with) I also tend to put them a bit behind the others I have.
(Although I still don't quite share the criticism above about the SQ of Kovacevich/Davis, or at least did not find this too bothersome.)

Anda/Fricsay holds up very well, they miraculously manage to make the music sound BOTH "weird" (esp. 1+2) and natural and the sound is good enough not to get in the way of musical enjoyment. I mentioned already Pollini/Abbado, superb but a bit "cool", the "weirdness" has become normalized to some extent. Kocsis I have mixed with the old 1+2 with Lehel when the pianist was about 20 and #3 with Fischer (from the mid 1980s). Also very good although the sound on the Capriccio hybrid of the early recording is a bit strange (adds to the weirdness factor).
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)