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#1726626 - 08/04/11 02:36 PM Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos  
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Here's a “Billboard top 20” style list of my favorite piano concertos along with particular performances.

This is an unpretentious list of my own current favorites. My intent is to form a thread that will help others just getting into this type of music develop ideas and find references to great music. The only rule is that I have to rank my favorite piano concertos periodically, perhaps once every month or three. I would see many on this list staying permanently, perhaps for many, many years, while many others might fall off and never return.

While the intent is just to share one noob’s uninitiated and uninformed journey through this musical form, guided only by personal experience and the music itself, I’d like suggestions on candidates to join the list. I’ve been exploring this form for all of a year or so, so by no means is this a ‘definitive guide,’ and it will rely on the help of others to take shape. If there is an ‘inferior’ recording on the list, it’s probably because I haven’t heard the superior version yet.

Periodically, I’ll tabulate the list of suggestions within this thread into a kind of ‘candidate list’ of compositions and performances. I will begin with the dozen or so threads that have been created on this forum since 2002 (almost entirely in PC) with many outstanding suggestions.

I am not going to exclude pieces like Totentanz (Liszt) and Carnival of the Animals (Saint-Saens) because they are not within the proper form. I’m not a musicologist, and I’m not any kind of expert, just someone who is currently fascinated with orchestral works with a dominant (even prominent) piano part and wants to share my particular journey through the (personally unexplored) literature.

Right now I have 11, but I envision this becoming a slightly longer list in subsequent posts. What do you think?

Piano Concerto [sic] & Favorite Recording(s)

  1. Schumann.......Argerich / Rostropovich
  2. Chopin 2.......Zimerman
  3. Rach 2............Richter / Rowicki
  4. Beet 5.......Gieseking / Karajan
  5. Grieg............Richter / Oistrakh
  6. Beet 4.......Fischer
  7. Tchaik 1.......Argerich / Dutoit
  8. Mozart 24.......Uchida / Tate
  9. Brahms 1..........Rubinstein / Reiner
  10. Prokofiev 3.......Argerich / Abbado
  11. Mozart 20.......Serkin / Abbado


Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
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#1726842 - 08/04/11 08:38 PM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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Good list - especially the Mozart, Grieg and Rach

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#1743719 - 08/31/11 09:34 AM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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hawgdriver, thanks for sharing this list with us. Personally, I haven't had much experience comparing different versions/interpretations of music, so I'm impressed by your collection. Would you mind sharing how you rank your favorite piano concertos and how you evaluate different recordings? Thanks! smile


"You are the music while the music lasts" - T.S. Eliot
#1743750 - 08/31/11 10:29 AM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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Is #6 Annie Fischer or Edwin Fischer?


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#1744557 - 09/01/11 02:46 PM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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Over the past month I've had a lot of time to listen. I was in Maui for a week and went on four-hour bike rides most days, and this gave me time to listen to some recordings.

As a result, there has been some dramatic movement in my personal rankings.

I wonder if Beethoven 4 will ever move from the top spot? The music speaks directly to me.

Also, I can't believe Chopin 1 wasn't on my first list. Someone in a PC thread said that Chopin 1 was the best "non-romantic" concerto--I admire the irony of that statement. I also agree with Schumann's statement that “we may be sure that a genius like Mozart, were he born today, would write concertos like Chopin and not like Mozart.”

Concerto & Favored Recording(s)

  1. Beet 4.......Edwin Fischer / conducted from keyboard (also like Gieseking / Karajan)
  2. Chopin 1.......Zimerman / Polish Festival Orch
  3. Rach 3............Rachmaninoff / (?)
  4. Grieg............Richter / Oistrakh
  5. Prokofiev 3.......Argerich / Abbado
  6. Schumann.......Argerich / Rostropovich
  7. Rach 2............Richter / Rowicki
  8. Chopin 2.......Zimerman
  9. Brahms 1..........Rubinstein / Reiner
  10. Mozart 20.......Serkin / Abbado


How I evaluate:

1. Investigate popular concertos and recordings by searching this forum and exploring Amazon
2. Buy well-recommended recordings on Amazon (usually box sets of by a musician, e.g., EMI's collections of Gieseking and Kempe)
3. Listen to them until they grab me.
4. When a particular piece of music grabs me, compare recordings among artists if I have multiple performances.
5. Once I am in love with a piece, explore the recordings of other artists, and possibly purchase new music (e.g. recently bought "Rach plays Rach" b/c I only had a Horowitz recording, and the Rach version was well-regarded on Amazon.

This method relies a lot on what people in this forum and people on Amazon say. Then I adjust it slightly based on what pleases me the most. For example, the Argerich/Rostropovich recording of Schumann really stands out among the crowd, at least to me. Same holds for the Zimerman Chopin concertos.

The problem with this list is that I don't have a deep body of experience listening to piano concertos. I've only been doing it for a short time. As time continues, I hope this thread will offer lasting value for others in the same situation.

Right now, these are the pieces that are "on deck" (I'm just exploring them, and they might be added):

Saint-Saens 2 & 3
Ravel Gmaj & LH
Liszt 2
several Mozart (all sound great, but homogenous when compared to other composers)
Haydn
Mendelssohn violin
Shostakovich 1
Stravinski Piano and Wind
Beethoven 3
Brahms 2
Barber
Alkan concerto for solo piano (not sure I want to classify this as a P-Con)

These I don't own and could use a recommendation for a recording:

Proko 2
Shosta 2

Last edited by hawgdriver; 09/01/11 02:52 PM. Reason: typos

Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
#1744590 - 09/01/11 03:47 PM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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Originally Posted by hawgdriver
Over the past month I've had a lot of time to listen. I was in Maui for a week and went on four-hour bike rides most days, and this gave me time to listen to some recordings.
Lucky you!
Quote
Also, I can't believe Chopin 1 wasn't on my first list.
One of my favorites, too!

Quote
How I evaluate:

1. Investigate popular concertos and recordings by searching this forum and exploring Amazon
2. Buy well-recommended recordings on Amazon (usually box sets of by a musician, e.g., EMI's collections of Gieseking and Kempe)
3. Listen to them until they grab me.
4. When a particular piece of music grabs me, compare recordings among artists if I have multiple performances.
5. Once I am in love with a piece, explore the recordings of other artists, and possibly purchase new music (e.g. recently bought "Rach plays Rach" b/c I only had a Horowitz recording, and the Rach version was well-regarded on Amazon.
I just wanted to let people know about another source for listening to piano music (and lots of other types too) that might save you a bit of money. Does everyone know about spotify? At least in the U.S., it's free, and it lets you search, preview, and listen to full-length pieces and albums from your PC via an internet connection. Only two downsides-- You can't download the music to your mobile device (or even listen to it through a wireless connection) unless you pay the monthly fee; and if you use the free version you have to listen to an ad after listening to several songs.

My piano teacher recommended this to me when he wanted me to listen to some different performances of Clair de Lune. I found at least 5 different versions there. Check it out here --> http://www.spotify.com/


Mary Bee
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#1744637 - 09/01/11 05:05 PM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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#1744677 - 09/01/11 05:44 PM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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Another good streaming service (for classical) is the Naxos site. Here in the UK, you can usually get a free subscription through your public library.

#1744840 - 09/01/11 11:16 PM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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Originally Posted by hawgdriver
8 Mozart 24.......Uchida / Tate


Bummer, I'm sorry to see this fall off your list. I like this one a lot. I have a CD with Alicia De Larrocha on piano and it's one of my favorites.

(disclaimer - my piano concerto listening experience is very small, but I still like this one and was happy to see it on the list the first time.)


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#1744850 - 09/01/11 11:42 PM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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You know, #24 is widely regarded to be a masterpiece--one day I am sure I will understand why. I just haven't had enough exposure.

Like you, my experience is very, very small. This kind of exploration would certainly appear novice-like to a more seasoned, long-time devotee.


Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
#1744868 - 09/02/11 12:09 AM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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BTW please feel free to PM me recommendations if you're not comfortable sharing will all.

If your favorite isn't on the list, it's probably not that it's not 'preferred', it's probably that I probably haven't heard it. And it's not like there is any kind of 'right answer'!!


Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
#1744933 - 09/02/11 06:04 AM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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Here are some recommendations for you to check out.
As MaryBee says, Spotify is a great way to preview recordings.All of these are available on Spotify except the Rachmaninov.

Mozart Piano Concertos No 23 & 24 Kempff/Leitner
Chopin Piano Concerto No 1 Pollini/Kletzki
Dvorak Piano Concerto Firkusny/Susskind
Prokofiev Piano Concertos No 1 & 3 Graffman/Szell
Rachmaninov Piano Concertos Wild/Horenstein
Beethoven Piano Concertos No 4 & 5 Kempff/Leitner
Grieg & Schumann Piano Concertos Kovacevich/Davis

Edit - I've just noticed that you're interested in the Mendelssohn violin concerto.Try to hear this Hahn recording coupled with a pretty good Shostakovich 1st.Again it's on Spotify if you can get it.
http://www.amazon.com/Mendelssohn-Violin-Concerto-Shostakovich-No/dp/B00006LWQH

Last edited by timmyab; 09/02/11 06:47 AM.
#1744934 - 09/02/11 06:25 AM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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Some more to add to your list - the three Bartok concertos. I recently heard a new recording by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and the BBC Phil (on Chandos) which is excellent.

Also, not a piano concerto but a great work for piano and orchestra - Schumann's Introduction and Allegro Apassionata. The Barenboim recording for EMI (coupled with the Schumann PC and Jacqueline du Pre's Schumann cello concerto) is a classic.

#1801483 - 12/06/11 04:27 PM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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Thanks KeemaNan and timmyab for the recommendations.

I found Talk Classical's "100 most recommended keyboard concerti" a few weeks ago, and that is an excellent resource.

I have been trying to broaden my horizons in terms of styles of classical music; remember, I am a total classical music noob. I only began listening in earnest about a year and a half ago, maybe two years. I'm listening much more lately to symphonic works and string ensembles. Still, I've percolated my keyboard concerti selections a bit and had to trim my list...I have much more listening to do, but I can say with some confidence that I really like these seven:

Concerti & Favored Recording(s)

  1. Beet 4.......Grimaud / Masur (I'm still looking for a definitive recording, I probably like Edwin Fischer's performance best, but the recording isn't great)
  2. Rach 2............Wang / Abbado (I like the sonic texture of this recording, and many of Abbado's touches; Wang is great here)
  3. Chopin 1.......Zimerman / Polish Festival Orch
  4. Grieg............Richter / Oistrakh
  5. Prokofiev 3.......Argerich / Abbado
  6. Schumann.......Argerich / Rostropovich
  7. Beethoven 5.......Michelangeli / Rossi


Currently listening and chewing through:
Proko 2
Brahms 1 & 2
Bartok 1-3
Several Mozart concerti (17, 20+)
Beethoven 3
Ravel G-maj & LH
Saint-Saens concerti (2, 3, & 5)
Bach concerti

This will likely be my last post in this thread for the next year, I am going to need a lot more time to sort through all these concerti.

I'd like to know if I'm missing some great performances/recordings of these works!


Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
#1801484 - 12/06/11 04:29 PM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: timmyab]  
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Originally Posted by timmyab
,,, Mendelssohn violin concerto.Try to hear this Hahn recording coupled with a pretty good Shostakovich 1st.


I like the Mendelssohn VC with Hahn a +lot+


Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
#2010947 - 01/08/13 02:37 AM Re: Hawgdriver's favorite piano concertos [Re: hawgdriver]  
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So, after another year, I continue to enjoy the piano concerto. My all-time (almost 2 years?) favorites, with a ranking that favors my current favorites:

1. Brahms 2nd PC
2. Grieg
3. Chopin 1
4. Schumann
5. Rach 2
6. Rach 3
7. Beethoven 3
8. Beethoven 4
9. Beethoven 5
10. Mozart 20
11. Prokofiev 3

I keep coming back to these. True, I like the Mendelssohn PCs a lot. And, I enjoy the Bartok, but I'm still learning them. But these 11 are the cherry on the sundae.

But when you talk about who really nailed it, you have to say that Brahms and Grieg just nailed it. All the music on this list is good, but those two just matched the instrument to its capability in this form so well (Brahms in his 2nd PC imo; 1st is still growing on me).

I think Prokofiev also did this very well, matching the instrument to the form, but his music is a tad too consistently cerebral for my taste. For this, I prefer his sonatas.

Rachmaninoff also had this innate understanding of the piano, this innate kinship and bond with the piano, this deep sympathy with the ethos and soul of the instrument. I think these composers do better than Mozart in that Mozart has great, amazing music, perhaps more divine than any other, but it is so striking, at all times, the separation between Mozart's "look at me" piano and its complement. Other composers manage to weave the piano as part of the overall fabric of the music; striking and prominent when appropriate, but also as just part of the crowd when that works best. Even so, Mozart's 20th could never be off a list such as this one. I think his 23rd and 24th are also deserving. Over the past year, I've listened to many of his "single digit" PCs, and those are just outstanding.

The only new entry is the Beethoven 3. His early PCs are all excellent, and this was a great revelation to me over the past year. I like the 3 very much now, it is excellent and solid, and I do still love the 4 and 5. Sadly, I do not know if Beethoven's 4th PC will endure on this list. It was so personally appealing and reflective of what I would want to say if I was given genius and a piano concerto of my own to share with the world. Perhaps I overlistened.

The Chopin piano concerto in E Minor, Op. 11, is excellent in the Mozart tradition. The Rondo is, at times, my favorite piece of orchestral piano music. Stirring! It makes me wonder what Chopin would have been capable of without so much melancholia swirling about in his head.

No list like this can omit the Schumann. It is often my favorite, but I become over-familiar with it, and prefer a novel sound.

So, this post likely concludes my contribution to this thread. It seems to me that if I had found this list when I decided to explore the form, Piano Concerto, I would have been well served. That is what I intended to achieve with this thread, and I see no great ground to advance from this point.

BTW, there is a talkclassical forum that has polled dozens or hundreds of members, and determined rankings for the keyboard concerti. I'll put a link below this excerpt, the top 11:

1. Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 20
2. Brahms - Piano Concerto No. 2
3. Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No. 2
4. Grieg - Piano Concerto
5. Schumann - Piano Concerto
6. Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor"
7. Prokofiev - Piano Concerto No. 3
8. Ravel - Piano Concerto (in G major)
9. Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 4
10. Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 23
11. Bach - Harpsichord Concerto No. 3 (BWV 1054)

http://www.talkclassical.com/12546-tc-top-100-most-36.html#post161903


Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski

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