- Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15
- Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19
- Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor ("Moonlight"), Op. 27/2
- Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
- Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor ("Pathétique"), Op. 13
- Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor ("Tempest"), Op. 31/2
- Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58
- Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major ("Emperor"), Op. 73
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Beethoven the Thunderer, the Heaven-Stormer, the Promethean Light-Bringer is emphatically not the Beethoven heard on these discs. Instead, in this recording of all five piano concertos plus three piano sonatas, Beethoven the Elegant, the Eloquent, the suave, and sophisticated man about Vienna is heard. Part of the reason is that the soloist is performing on a light-action, clear-toned fortepiano. Part of the reason is that the accompanists are performing on what the notes call "authentic instruments," that is, reedy winds, natural horns, catgut strings, and cowhide tympani. But, of course, the larger part of the reason is not the instruments but the performers. Soloist Steven Lubin is an excellent musician with enough technique to tear through the glittering arpeggios that open of the "Emperor Concerto" and enough sensitivity to sing the broad melodies of the central Adagio cantabile of the "Pathétique Sonata." Conductor Christopher Hogwood is also an excellent musician with enough control to hold together the far-flung structure of the "Fourth Concerto" and enough taste not to indulge in gratuitous grandstanding in the outer movements of the "Third Concerto." And the Academy of Ancient Music is likewise made up of excellent musicians who accomplish miracles with their "authentic instruments" -- listen for the burnished tone of the horns or the piquant tone of the winds or the polished tone of the strings. Beyond their technical abilities, however, the largest part of the reason that Beethoven the Thunderer is replaced here by Beethoven the Elegant is that Lubin, Hogwood, and the Academy of Ancient Music perform him that way. This, it could be argued, is a perfectly legitimate way to perform the "First" and "Second" concertos. After all, Beethoven was a young dandy new to Vienna when he wrote them and Lubin and Hogwood's way with their sparkling music is entirely persuasive. And, it might be argued, this is a possibly legitimate way to perform the "Third Concerto." After all, Beethoven did model the work on Mozart's C minor concerto and elegance is always an appropriate Mozartian quality. But, it should be argued, this is not necessarily an appropriate way to perform the "Fourth" and especially the "Fifth" concertos. By the time he composed them, Beethoven was deep into his "heroic" decade, and for all its eloquence, his music had become much more muscular, much more rugged, and much, much more aggressive than it is portrayed in Lubin and Hogwood's interpretations. Decca's early digital sound is very crisp and very clear, but not very evocative and hardly real at all.