25 Essential Beethoven Recordings: The Triple Concerto

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The Soviet parternship of Sviatoslav Richter, Mstilav Rostropovich and David Oistrakh came together with the Berlin Philharmonic and conductor Herbert von Karajan in 1969 for Beethoven's under-performed Triple Concerto.

The results are compelling from about every angle -- interpretively, historically and (mostly) sonically. These stars worked together often, but never abroad or on a recording until this point. EMI, however, saw real value in this recording session and it spared no expense in assembling the forces. It made the company a mint.

In his book, The Life and Death of Classical Music, author and critic Norman Lebrecht names this album one of "20 Recordings that Never Should Have Been Made." He points to later comments by Oistrakh, who said, "it was a dreadful recording session and I utterly disown it," opining that the three soloists and conductor felt rushed and didn't communicate with one another in the studio. While it's true that Karajan preferred an ultra-plush orchestral sound, the three soloists also push the conductor to jagged new heights.

The album includes a similarly compelling Brahms Double Concerto of identical vintage by the same string players with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra.

Tell us what you think about our choice in the comments below.

Beethoven Triple Concerto
Sviatoslav Richter, pianist; David Oistrakh, violinist; Mstislav Rostropovich, cellist; Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert von Karajan
EMI Classics
Available at Arkivmusic.com