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Title - 'Piano Masters in Berlin' [8 CD Box-Set]
Artist - Various

As part of Deutsche Grammophon's celebrations of its incredible pianistic heritage both past and present, the Yellow Label presents within its PIANO MASTERS campaign 8 albums of outstanding performances from its unrivalled roster of pianists accompanied by the two pillars of German musical life: the Berlin Philharmonic and the Staatskapelle Berlin.

Released this past June 22nd, 2018, Piano Masters in Berlin - together with its witty and eye-catching artwork - collects celebrated performances by Pollini, Gilels, Argerich, Barenboim, Géza Anda, Foldes, the Labèque sisters and Yundi.

CD 1: Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37 / Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Kadenz: Ludwig van Beethoven
1. Allegro con brio - Cadenza: Beethoven (16:07)
2. Largo (10:07)
3. Rondo (Allegro) (9:28)

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Cadenzas: Ludwig van Beethoven
4. 1. Allegro moderato - Cadenza: Ludwig van Beethoven (17:18)BR> 5. 2. Andante con moto (5:16)
6. 3. Rondo. Vivace - Cadenza: Ludwig van Beethoven (10:01)
Maurizio Pollini, Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado

CD 2: Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83
Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83
1. Allegro non troppo (18:22)
2. Allegro appassionato (9:31)
Emil Gilels, Berliner Philharmoniker, Eugen Jochum
3. Andante - Più adagio (14:04)
Emil Gilels, Ottomar Borwitzky, Berliner Philharmoniker, Eugen Jochum
4. Allegretto grazioso - Un poco più presto (9:47)
Emil Gilels, Berliner Philharmoniker, Eugen Jochum

7 Piano Pieces, Op.116
5. 1. Capriccio in D minor (2:11)
6. 2. Intermezzo in A minor (3:35)
7. 3. Capriccio in G minor (3:13)
8. 4. Intermezzo in E major (4:22)
9. 5. Intermezzo in E minor (3:00)
10. 6. Intermezzo in E major (3:07)
11. 7. Capriccio in d minor (2:16)
Emil Gilels

CD 3: Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11 / Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11
1. Allegro maestoso (20:43)
2. Romance (Larghetto) (9:54)
3. Rondo (Vivace) (10:30)

Piano Concerto No.2 In F Minor, Op.21
4. 1. Maestoso (14:16)
5. 2. Larghetto (8:59)
6. 3. Allegro vivace (9:05)
Daniel Barenboim, Staatskapelle Berlin, Andris Nelsons

CD 4: Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat Major, S. 124 / Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major, S. 125 / Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat Major, S. 124
1. Allegro maestoso (5:17)
2. Quasi adagio - Allegretto vivace - Allegro animato (8:33)
3. Allegro marziale animato (4:07)

Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major, S. 125
4. 1. Adagio sostenuto assai (4:39)
5. 2. Allegro agitato assai (1:57)
6. 3. Allegro moderato (4:27)
7. 4. Allegro deciso (2:55)
8. 5. Marziale un poco meno Allegro (3:29)
9. 6. Allegro animato (1:42)

Sergey Vasil'yevich Rachmaninov (1873 - 1943)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
10. 1. Moderato (9:30)
11. 2. Adagio sostenuto (10:19)
12. 3. Allegro scherzando (10:42)
Andor Foldes, Berliner Philharmoniker, Leopold Ludwig

CD 5: Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 10 in E-Flat Major, K. 365 / Piano Concerto No. 7 in F Major, K. 242 - "Lodron"
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Piano Concerto No.10 In E-Flat Major, K. 365
1. Allegro (10:00)
2. Andante (8:04)
3. Rondeau (Allegro) (7:01)
Katia Labèque, Marielle Labèque, Berliner Philharmoniker, Semyon Bychkov

Piano Concerto No.7 In F Major, K. 242 - "Lodron"
4. 1. Allegro (8:29)
5. 2. Adagio (10:30)
6. 3. Rondeau (Tempo di menuetto) (6:13)
Katia Labèque, Marielle Labèque, Semyon Bychkov, Berliner Philharmoniker

CD 6: Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2 in G Minor, Op.16 / Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major, M. 83
Sergei Prokofiev (1891 - 1953)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 16
1. Andantino (11:12)
2. Scherzo (Vivace) (2:17)
3. Intermezzo (Allegro moderato) (5:41)
4. Finale (Allegro tempestoso) (11:03)

Maurice Ravel (1875 - 1937)
Piano Concerto in G Major, M. 83
5. 1. Allegramente (8:16)
6. 2. Adagio assai (8:42)
7. 3. Presto (3:53)
Yundi Li, Berliner Philharmoniker, Seiji Ozawa

CD 7: Schumann: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 / Grieg: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16
Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856)
Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
1. Allegro affettuoso (15:32)
2. Intermezzo (Andantino grazioso) (5:28)
3. Allegro vivace (11:00)

Edvard Grieg (1843 - 1907)
Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16
4. 1. Allegro molto moderato (13:05)
5. 2. Adagio (7:03)
6. 3. Allegro moderato molto e marcato - Quasi presto - Andante maestoso (10:44)
Géza Anda, Berliner Philharmoniker, Rafael Kubelik

CD 8: Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 In B Flat Minor, Op.23, TH.55; Nutcracker Suite, Op.71a, TH.35 (Arr. For Piano 4-Hands)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 23, TH 55
1. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso - Allegro con spirito (19:12)
2. Andantino semplice - Prestissimo - Tempo I (6:30)
3. Allegro con fuoco (6:18)
Martha Argerich, Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado

Nutcracker Suite, Op.71a, TH.35
Arr. Nicolas Economou for 2 pianos
4. 1. Ouverture miniature: Allegro giusto (3:04)
5. 2. Danses caractéristiques. a. Marche: Tempo di marcia viva (2:16)
6. 2. Danses caractéristiques. b. Danse de la Fée Dragée: Andante non troppo (2:01)
7. 2. Danses caractéristiques. c. Danse russe Trépak: Tempo di Trepak, molto vivace (1:03)
8. 2. Danses caractéristiques. d. Danse arabe: Allegretto (3:04)
9. 2. Danses caractéristiques. e. Danse chinoise: Allegro moderato (0:57)
10. 2. Danses caractéristiques. f. Danse des mirlitons: Moderato assai (2:09)
11. 3. Valse des Fleurs: Tempo di valse (6:21)
Martha Argerich, Nicolas Economou

Obviously, I cannot go into too much depth here on each of the composers, for you already know most all there is to know about them by now anywa through all my previous reviews, but I will tell you that having now listened to all 8 CDs over the weekend that the three that stand out for me, personally, are the works of: Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, and, of course, the always wonderful Maurizio Pollini.

Maurizio Pollini's work on the opening CD alone, Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 is phenomenal (which is most likely why it opens this box-set, in truth. Together with the Berliner Philharmoniker and renowned Italian composer Claudio Abbado, as befits the composition's episodic nature, it is a version of contrasts, urgent AND lyrical.

It starts with an urgent and highly dramatic introductory cadenza, a far cry from the more grandiose and stately approach of Katchen, Barenboim, or, more recently, Aimard with Harnoncourt.

The same spirit of menacing urgency imbues the first phrases of the orchestra, first entoned by cellos and double basses (2:51), as well as the "allegro molto" section at at 7:37, which exudes an almost raging energy, and the biting Marcia at 12:18 (track 4).

But Pollini commendably relaxes for the more lyrical utterances, as when the main theme is stated by piano alone at 4:12, with the ensuing woodwind chirping conveying a fine sense of pastorale bonhomie, or in the dreamy and delicate Adagio (9:17).

Daniel Barenboim's work alongside both the Staatskapelle Berlin and Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons on both Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11 and Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21 is rather good also, you have my word.

This is, without a shadow of a doubt, indeed a marvelous recording. Barenboim plays Chopin's concertos so beautifully, so romantically that you almost feel like he was born to do just that - to play Chopin extensively.

Although I own many recordings of the Chopin piano concertos, I was completely swept away with this recording and to me this opus shines above any of the others that I own of the works.

Barenboim's playing is so controlled and beautiful. I, once again, was able to lean back in my "arm chair" and enjoy a master of the piano play some of classical music's finest compositions. It's just that kind of elegant, yet playfully toned musical wonderment that begs to be played on a lazy, sunny Sunday afternoon.

Indeed, the second movement of the second concerto in F minor is immensely beautiful also. Barenboim and Andris Nelsons give it a very dramatic and tremendously heartfelt performance which makes it one of the most gorgeous works to have ever trickled out from the former's fingertips, in my humble opinion.

Barenboim's treatment of these works is top notch. Indeed, he gives the same articulate expression to them as he would the shortest Mazurka. Although an orchestra exists, it is the piano that shines through - like a movie with one actor and several off-stage voices.

And whilst the music itself may not be as exciting as some of his other works, the performance is top-notch, the notes crystal clear, and glittering. It is a masterful performance with not a single glitch.

Lastly, for me, comes (funnily enough) the last of the 8 CDs in this glorious box-set, Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a, featuring both Martha Argerich and Nicolas Economou on piano.

Wow! I mean WOW! The players are great here, as you would fully expect and the recording quality is first rate. Of course, the music evokes great memories for the holidays, but more than that, the relation between the piano and orchestra as interaction; and not just foreground/background, is amazing.

And, even better, in the long first movement, you hear the interaction, the dramatic give-and-take, within the orchestra - and that makes a huge difference to one's perception of the listeners interest of that first movement.

You can also hear and appreciate the different textures of the different orchestral groupings, along with hearing the breadth of the soloist's tonal palette.

In closing, there is no doubt that this is one of the very best musical performances of the Nutcracker Suite to have ever been recorded. In fact, you will hardly find a version of The Nutcracker Suite in piano solo, in general!

I am still so fascinated with this title, since the version of the Piano Concerto No.1 by Tchaikovsky is lovely, and The Nutcracker is out of this world. I highly recommend this title to everyone who loves The Nutcracker Suite, especially Op. 71a, of course.

• 8-CDs presenting outstanding performances from Deutsche Grammophon’s unrivalled roster of pianists accompanied by the two pillars of German musical life: the Berlin Philharmonic and the Staatskapelle Berlin
• The remarkable recordings presented here represent different layers of style and time, featuring: Géza Anda, Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Andor Foldes, Emil Gilels, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Maurizio Pollini and Yundi
• 8 CD cap-box with gloss lamination and debossing
• Sleeves feature original cover art
• 24 page booklet

Official Piano Masters in Berlin' [8 CD Box-Set] Purchase Link