Best version of Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto- the emperor?

Hi all,

The title says it all - what do you think is the best version of Beethoven’s piano concerto no.5 - otherwise known as the emperor? When I say the best, I am looking for quality of recording plus best interpretation.

My favourite so far is Krystian Zimerman (piano) and Leonard Bernstein conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker. It is a live recording. I am open to listening to other versions to see if any other version surpasses this version.

For those not familiar with this piece of music, I suggest listen to it deeply, in a dark room and just focus on it. The second movement would have to be the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed - and the first and third movements, well, they are perfectly balanced gems with great piano and orchestra. This concerto is simply fantastic.

So what is you favourite version?

Carlos Kleiber conducting the Vienna Philharmonic generally comes top of most lists and is available in 24/96 high res, which always helps. Enjoy it.

I think you mean Beethoven’s 5th symphony. Quite right that this is probably the most well regarded recording of the 5th symphony.

The OP was asking about the 5th Piano concerto.

for that - I like Leif Ove Andsnes conducting the Mahler Chamber Orchestra from the keyboard.
Also - Leon Fleisher with Georg Szell / Cleveland

Oops. I should read more carefully.

This is a second vote for Fleisher with Szell/Cleveland, which has been my standard.

BBC Radio 3 Building a Library, which is usually reliable, recommended Hannes Minnaar with Jan Willem de Vriend/Netherlands SO. I plan to give that a go soon.

Give a listen to:

Rudolph Serking/Seiji Ozawa
Alfred Brendel/Bernard Haitink

I haven’t heard Paul Lewis play this, but I’ll bet it’s as good as it gets

Seems like Tidal has 1233 recordings, on your marks …

Maybe try

Kempff Leitner
Helene Grimaud
Or Any of the 3 Brendel

I’ve just had a lovely time listening to

and strongly recommend it.

I enjoy Uchida with Sanderling on Philips; they recorded all 5 piano concertos together.


For something really different, try this HIP recording with Melvyn Tan (on fortepiano) and Roger Norrington:


Both are available on Qobuz (the Tan/Norrington as part of a complete set of the concertos).

I like this Glenn Gould version. It has the most emotional appeal, I can’t explain why…