Recently I stumbled over Beethoven’s complete piano concertos with Murray Perahia as the soloist. He’s accompanied by Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, which was named the world’s best modern romantic orchestra in a 2008 poll by Gramophone Magazine. They are indeed good.
To start with, I found the recorded sound slightly off-putting because of the strong reverberation at the recording venue. However, because of the artistic qualities I continued to listen to the set, especially the fourth concerto, and I grew accoustumed to the acoustics. Now I love it! Add to that an extreme sense of precision from the pianist making you able to distinguish every single note, even in the beginning of the fourths concerto’s last movement, and an orchestra that’s as precise and energetic as one could hope for, which is well exemplified in the same movement, and we’ve got a constantly rewarding set. The tempi are on the fast side but never feel exaggerated. The only drawback is that some of the quieter piano parts have a somewhat heavy orchestral accompaniment, but this is a minor complaint that’s probably not shared by all.
All in all this is an excellent set of B’s monumental piano concertos and I’ve yet to hear a better one. The price isn’t bad either.