Daniel Barenboim

Daniel Barenboim the Pianist

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As usual with such box sets, this five-disc Daniel Barenboim "Edition" doesn't deliver the survey promised on the exterior -- what's included are Barenboim recordings from the Warner Classics orbit of labels, some of them acquired later on. The earliest recording, the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat major, K. 595, dates from 1988, and most of the recordings are from the 1990s. (The pitch-sensitive will be interested to know that, although Barenboim conducts the Berlin Philharmonic from the keyboard on both concertos, the orchestra is tuned to a different pitch in each.) That said, the set provides both a reasonable overview of Barenboim's styles as a pianist and the sort of small pleasure one hopes to find in a box set. In the latter category is disc 4, which reproduces a set of recordings Barenboim made of music from his native Argentina. This isn't a side of his musical personality that is generally emphasized, but he is unusually effective here as he forges a seamless mix of tango-flavored music from various sources. The track list implies that the music is played by a trio, but some of the music involves only Barenboim playing solo; in the trios used for the famous Piazzolla tangos (bandoneón, double bass, and piano) he easily steps into the accompanimental role he perfected on his earlier recordings with his wife, cellist Jacqueline du Pré. On disc one we get the first part of Barenboim's reading of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 -- a lyrical, legato, Romantic interpretation of the kind that's out of fashion, but is fully worked out with a beautiful sense of continuity between the individual pieces. The Mozart concertos are a bit unwieldy, but Barenboim's Schubert, unrolling as if in a single breath -- quite a feat in the movements of the giant Piano Sonata in B flat major, D. 960 -- is distinctive and lovely. (Presenter warning: a full 10 seconds of silence precedes the beginning of that sonata.) The final disc is devoted to early Brahms, with the result that the set covers most of Barenboim's major interests as a pianist, with the notable exception of Beethoven. For its budget price, this set offers a reasonable introduction to one of classical music's genuine superstars.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The Well-Tempered Clavier (24), collection of preludes & fugues, Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103)
1 01:40
2 02:12
3 01:33
4 02:07
5 01:19
6 02:27
7 03:02
8 05:05
9 01:11
10 02:02
11 01:46
12 02:21
13 04:27
14 02:00
15 04:24
16 06:08
17 01:10
18 01:10
19 02:23
20 01:28
21 00:59
22 01:54
23 01:48
24 04:19
blue highlight denotes track pick