Props must be given to Naxos for releasing the complete concertos for piano in one collection, and as far as I know this is the first time they have all been offered in this glorious way. When I initially heard about this release I was extra curious as the pianist listed was Idil Biret, whom I discovered long ago on other Naxos recordings-when Naxos was in it's infancy. I was impressed early on with her interpretations (especially her Rachmaninov and Brahms) and hadn't seen her name around in a long time (not that I have been searching, there's just so many great musicians around after all). I'm pretty sure that Idil Biret and Jenő Jandó were the first pianists signed to Naxos. Jenő Jandó's early recordings too I have enjoyed thoroughly. Biret has been a concert pianist for a long time (she worked with Nadia Boulanger in the early 1950s, was a pupil of Alfred Cortot and a lifelong disciple of Wilhelm Kempff, and worked with major orchestras such as the Boston Symphony), indeed way before Naxos meant anything to people other then the Greek island in the Aegean.
One of the most interesting works in this collection is "Konzertmusik for Piano, Brass, and Two Harps", Op. 49. It's rarely heard and quirky, especially for the (limited) forces required. Idil Biret, as you will see in the booklet notes, performed this piece under Nadia Boulanger quite a few years back-in 1963! I think it's safe to say that she's the perfect interpreter for the Op. 49. The rest of the music here is played extremely well by everyone involved; the only thing that keeps these discs from being a "10" for me is the tempi in various places. Mostly I'm speaking of sections that seem a tad sluggish, for me it's "The Four Temperaments" (Hindemith's best known work on this collection) in particular; it's still very very good but I know the piece and it's history so well that I suppose I'm biased, and yes perhaps acting like a stickler. As I'm as usual short on time I'm not going to get on about each work on here (plus Hindemith being a composer in my "top 10" I'd also be writing enough to destroy everyone's eyes!) as I have included the booklet notes.