While there are numerous recordings of Beethoven’s five concertos, this particular recording on Phillips comes highly recommended. While it does not include my favorite, the fifth concerto, these four are outstanding, particularly the fourth.
Rather than take my recommendation, search for some of the top recordings and if possible, add Concerto #5 as it is a must. I’ve recommended the “Emperor” in an earlier post so search for that recommendation. Enjoy the following positive review found on Amazon.
“Thank heavens! Someone interprets the 4th Piano Concerto with fire and brilliance without masking the warm song that runs through all of it. I’m quite sick of the traditional view of this concerto as a dreamy and gentle piece, making pianists and conductors downplay the concerto’s drama and contrasts with unclear orchestral textures, languid tempo, and little variety of articulation and dynamics. For those of you who think Beethoven is for cheese manufacturing, go elsewhere. For me, these recordings go to the heart of Beethoven, revealing him as both Dionysus and Apollo. In this performance, the finale of the 4th Piano Concerto exults just as much as the finale of the 7th Symphony. It’s both heart-gripping in warmth as well as absolutely thrilling. The slow movement of the 4th Concerto is also remarkable — this interpretation really does emphasize its links with the world of opera, with Davis making the string octaves super-stern and Kovacevich gently shaping his lines like a singer (and what an outburst he creates in his cadenza!). There’s a great moment in the 1st movement of the 1st Piano Concerto (the preparation for the recapitulation) where Kovacevich substitutes a descending scale for an octave glissando from the top to the bottom of the piano! Purists might scoff at this, but I find it absolutely irresistible. But I’m quick to add that any of you who might dismiss Kovacevich as an insensitive pianist should listen to his rapt restraint in the second movement of the 3rd Concerto, with phrasing to die for. The romances are really touching, and Grumiaux’s intonation is quite immaculate. But Davis, Kovacevich, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra are the stars of this great bargain set. And I dare say that Kovacevich is (in my humble opinion) the most remarkable Beethoven pianist alive. ”