Music: Back with Beethoven

No one loves the composer's piano concertos more--or plays them better--than Alfred Brendel

With some 400 recordings of Beethoven's five piano concertos currently listed, even Ludwig's biggest fans must have trouble getting excited about new ones. Except when they are played by Alfred Brendel, an artist whose interpretive mastery of the composer continues to ripen. In his latest release, Beethoven: The 5 Piano Concertos (Philips Classics), Brendel teams with conductor Sir Simon Rattle and the Vienna Philharmonic in exhilarating performances that blend vitality, expressive breadth and, particularly in the five slow movements, spellbinding beauty.

Brendel, 68, a longtime London resident of Austrian descent, has recorded works by composers from Bach to Schoenberg. His advocacy...

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