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Andrew Quint
Fanfare, November 2012

…readings that are intimately expressive in the manner of chamber music but still grandly communicative in their emotional impact. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Robert Cummings
Classical Net, September 2012

Rudolf Buchbinder sees Beethoven as a heartier, more imposing and more jovial composer whose music touches the heart directly: while there may be less variance in his dynamics than what one typically might encounter, he is nevertheless attentive to the emotional flow of the piece. Thus, he is more likely to romp than stomp, and more likely to let the music speak for itself than dress it up. In addition, his accuracy is almost uncanny and he consistently eschews attempts at virtuosic showmanship.

His First Concerto is bright, muscular and brimming with a youthful sense. He draws crisp, at times powerful playing from the orchestra, and his performance of the cadenza is especially sensitive and builds to a spectacular close. The ensuing Largo is lovely in its clear, straightforward phrasing and dreamlike character. His finale is a romp of total joy where Buchbinder points up both wit and mischief: this is one of Beethoven’s most infectious concerto movements, featuring catchy themes and imaginative thematic development, and Buchbinder misses none of the humor, even if he often imbues phrases with forte-laden dynamics. A splendid performance!

Buchbinder’s Second Concerto is bubbly enough, though again there is a muscular character to both the piano and orchestral playing. Still, the youthfulness of the work comes through. Colors are bold and the music crackles with energy and boldness in the outer movements.

The Third Concerto follows the same interpretive approach, but here Buchbinder the conductor is especially alert to subtle phrasing of the thematic material, notably in the opening orchestral exposition. His entrance on the piano is emphatic and dramatic, and he keeps your interest thereafter with spirited tempos and an unerring sense for Beethoven’s emotional shifts…His finale is hearty and colorful, fully capturing Beethoven’s humor and infectious joy.

The Fourth features a first movement that is by turns romantic, joyous, serene, intense, and epic. That whole panoply of Beethovenian expression is there in spades. Indeed, and as Mahler would strive for in his symphonies, it is music that expresses a whole world. In Buchbinder’s hands that world is bright and optimistic, full of hope. The finale brims with delight and triumph.

The “Emperor”, in my opinion, is Beethoven’s greatest piano concerto. Buchbinder’s rendition here brims with triumph, his lively tempos and sense of both wit and epic moment yielding a most glorious account of this great movement. The dreamy second movement is splendidly played and while most pianists do quite well in the finale, Buchbinder is especially effective here because of his often bluff yet consistently sensitive treatment of Beethoven’s colorful music. At times the music seems almost to jump right out at you, so lively and spirited is the playing by both Buchbinder and the Vienna Philharmonic, especially in statements of the main theme. In the end, this must be judged an utterly splendid account of the “Emperor”.

…if I had to take one Beethoven concerto cycle to a desert island, it might just be this new Buchbinder effort. I should mention there is an interesting bonus track featuring Buchbinder in conversation about Beethoven with musicologist Joachim Kaiser. © 2012 Classical Net Read complete review

Andrew Quint
Fanfare, July 2012

Rudolf Buchbinder’s devotion to Beethoven’s piano concertos borders on the obsessive. He first played one in public in 1956, at the age of 10, on the stage of Vienna’s Musikverein. Buchbinder returned 55 years later to the same venue to perform and record the five works with the Vienna Philharmonic over a five-day span.

Buchbinder…assures that the performances achieve his ideal by leading the orchestra from the piano bench. Although an actual conductor might shape phrases more meticulously and ensure more perfect unanimity of attack and release, an ensemble as accomplished as the Vienna Philharmonic can deliver on these points just fine without some guy waving a baton in front of them—especially when, as is apparent here, they respect the soloist collaborating with them.

The five readings are very much of a piece—measured, non-fussy, exquisitely proportioned, and lyrically articulate. Buchbinder’s technique is as confident as ever; there are no obvious slips even as he is attending to the orchestra.

The Musikverein is a difficult hall to record in and Unitel’s engineers wisely opt for a fairly close-up sonic perspective. There’s a pleasingly dimensional representation of the solo instrument, especially with the surround program. The video is as direct and unadorned as Buchbinder’s performances, possessing a natural flow and eschewing distracting artiness. This disc is a mandatory addition to a basic classical Blu-ray collection. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Karl Lozier
Positive Feedback Online, July 2012

The stunning Fifth Concerto has been described by music critics in many ways. For examples; the best ever performed, the greatest, the most nearly perfect, the most popular and so on.

I am certain that browsing the internet will quickly inundate you with historical interest of the first magnitude-enjoy your search. The orchestral playing is as good as it gets. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone wanting fine performances with great video accompaniment. I give this collection an excellent recommendation… © 2012 Positive Feedback Online Read complete review

Geoffrey Molyneux
MusicWeb International, May 2012

these performances are deeply felt and as the talk on the disc confirms…

I particularly liked the finales where there is real rhythmic vitality, combined in the third and fifth concertos with excitement and drama. The first concerto finale has wonderful wit and humour…

The high point of these performances for me is the Emperor, which I enjoyed immensely. It really takes fire, has great rhythmic energy and verve in the outer movements, and Buchbinder produces some beautiful tone and the subtlest of rubato in the slower sections. Magnificent playing all round with some incisive and vigorous playing.

It must have been a great occasion to hear these performances live and this is a fine record of the event. The playing is highly efficient and thoughtful with some wonderful, poetic moments…

…this is a disc well worth seeing as well as hearing. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Lawrence Devoe, January 2012

Entering the world of the Beethoven piano concertos is like starting up an Olympic event, say the Decathlon. There is a universe of music contained with these five pieces that is like no other. This repertory calls upon the resources of a pianist who must move from the neatly contained classical world of Mozart to the unruly sturm und drang that is Beethoven. There is a short list of contemporary artists that can make this transition effectively and, believe me, Rudolf Buchbinder is definitely on that list. …I will definitely put the Buchbinder Beethoven cycle on the keeper list. © 2012 Read complete review

Robert Benson, January 2012

BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5 (Buchbinder) (NTSC) 708808
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5 (Buchbinder) (Blu-ray, HD) 708904

This set of Beethoven’s piano concertos is a winner…A solid musician by all standards, and, played on the Blu Ray disk, [Rudolf Buchbinder’s] performances have been recorded with uncommon video and audio quality…This is a musical experience of the highest musical quality… © 2012 Read complete review

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