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Beethoven - Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3
This is the first disc in Ronald Brautigam’s Beethoven Piano Concertos cycle; part of his ongoing cycle to record all of Beethoven’s music for solo piano. Brautigam now takes on Beethoven’s complete works for piano and orchestra, choosing to do so on a modern piano and with a modern instrument orchestra: the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, internationally acclaimed for its many fine recordings on BIS. Conducting the series is Andrew Parrott, and together with the soloist, he brings all his expertise in period performance practice to bear in interpretations that in many ways are as fresh and revolutionary as those of the sonata cycle. As Ronald Brautigam explains in the liner notes: ‘I truly believe that what Beethoven wanted was chamber music rather than a battle between orchestra and soloist, and this makes for a wonderfully interactive set-up, where individual players have far more contact with the pianist than in a regular concert set-up’.
“…the playing is refreshingly alert throughout, with tempos noticeably on the fast side.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2008 ****
“These well-known works emerge as if freshly minted” International Record Review
“This is a recording set-up with consequences. Out the window goes the romantic 19th-century notion of the concerto as a titanic conflict between soloist and orchestra. In come intimate performances, styled almost as chamber music. In an early, Mozartean concerto like the C major, Op 15 (the first to be published, but not the first written), this scale of delivery is ideal. Brautigam’s fingering is so agile and clear that he makes you tingle in arpeggio runs; he’s equally splendid capering about, lightweight and giggly, in the rondo finale...If you want the blunt power of the old mighty Russians, Brautigam is probably not your pianist. But there’s fierce clarity here, and musical refreshment of a high order.” The Times, 18th July 2008 ****
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Beethoven - Piano Concertos Nos. 3-5
“Whenever Mackerras appears with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra he produces magical alchemy” The Scotsman
“I think that [Pizarro] would have won Beethoven's hearty applause and approval.” Gramophone
Ludwig van Beethoven’s piano concertos are some of the most popular works in the classical repertoire. Renowned conductor Sir Charles Mackerras leads pianist Artur Pizarro and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in a truly memorable performance of these great works.
Ludwig van Beethoven’s final three piano concertos are extremely vital in the transition from the classical to the romantic period.
These works demonstrate Beethoven’s move away from the classical style by challenging previous concerto models; delicate and ornamental features are replaced with powerful, rousing, and even heroic, melodies and developments
The magical partnership of Mackerras and the SCO resulted in the addition of Concerto No. 5, which was not originally in the recording plan. Concertos 3 and 4 were recorded very quickly - often in one take!
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Sir Charles Mackerras have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship. Their recording ‘Mozart Symphonies 38 – 41’ was named the classical recording of 2008 by the Sunday Times and HMV Choice. It also won a 2009 Midem Award for Symphonic Works and a Choc de l’année Award from Le Monde de la Musique.
“Pizarro's blend of perfectly proportioned poetry, dancing lyricism and muscular prowess calls to mind earlier performances by Kempff, Kovacevich and Gilels while bringing a fresh, questing dynamism all his own to bear...The Scottish Chamber Orchestra play as to the manor born [sic], Mackerras multi-faceted and magnificent, the recorded sound up to Linn's usual high standards.” Michael Quinn, bbc.co.uk, 29th April 2009
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Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 3
Olli Mustonen continues his acclaimed cycle of Beethoven Piano Concertos. In this second volume, the Finnish pianist and conductor turns his talent to the Third Piano Concerto and the Piano Concerto which Beethoven arranged himself from the Violin Concerto of 1806. While this is seldom played in concert, with only a handful of recordings available in the catalogue, Mustonen regularly puts it in his programmes and it has become one of his signature pieces.
As on the previous disc, Mustonen performs with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, whith whom he has maintained close artistic ties for years, accompanying this Beethoven project with acclaimed tour performances in various European countries.
“Mustonen plays Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 3 with a spiky, red-hot touch, fiery with poetic anger, running silky trills straight into dazzling scales and letting fly with accents in unaccustomed places like an orator emphasising prepositions for rhetorical effect. It is a thrilling listen.” The Times, 5th July 2008 ****
“A sustained singing line is evidently anathema to the maverick Finn. Instead he is forever nudging and tweaking the music, shading away almost inaudibly at cadences, and adding jabbing accents where you least expect - or want - them (Beethoven's score is already lavishly peppered with sforzandi).
Mustonen's keyboard mastery is irrefutable, both in the C minor Concerto and in Beethoven's opportunistic keyboard arrangement of his Violin Concerto, with its almost comically portentous piano-and-timpani cadenza. Despite moments of illumination, though, my reactions to these performances veered between bafflement and exasperation.” The Telegraph, 19th July 2008
“Though Mustonen plays it with enthusiasm, [the Concerto in D Major, originally for violin) arouses mixed feelings. The writing only becomes genuinely pianistic in the cadenzas - they are phenomenal - and in the newly composed transition from slow movement to finale. Mustonen's performance of the Third Concerto, however, is one of the finest on disc: big-hearted and free from the Haydnesque prissiness that some interpreters bring to the work. The Tapiola Sinfonietta's playing is sensational, too.” The Guardian, 8th August 2008 ****
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