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The Beethoven Journey - Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor" & Choral Fantasy / Andsnes

Andsnes,Leif Ove
Release Date: 09/16/2014 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 305886   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Leif Ove Andsnes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Buy the Complete Piano Concertos (1-5) here!



In 2012 Leif Ove Andsnes launched “The Beethoven Journey”, a project involving concert performances of all five Beethoven piano concertos and the Choral Fantasy, plus recordings with the pianist leading the Mahler Chamber Orchestra from the piano. When I interviewed Andsnes that year, he had not yet led the “Emperor” Concerto (No. 5), and expressed curiosity concerning the challenges of coordinating a work of such formidable symphonic dimensions while being unusually busy at the keyboard and not able to conduct as much. Judging from the cycle’s third and final release, coordination is not a
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Soloist and orchestra dovetail each other efficiently and flexibly, although I suspect that a full-time podium presence would have more solidly aligned the first-movement tutti measures just before the final cadenza, or would have insisted that the solo bassoon play out. The small string section makes up in sheer precision and responsiveness what it lacks in regard to the heft and sustaining power we usually expect from Beethoven’s grand orchestral image. At the same time, the timpani and horns are effectively “in your face”, especially throughout the Rondo.

Andsnes plays best in the first movement. He dispatches the runs and broken octaves with ease (not to mention the difficult right-hand thirds against descending left-hand triplets), and makes something special of the exposition’s detours into B minor and C-flat major territory. While other slow-movement performances like those of Gilels and Arrau find more spacious poetry and harmonic tension in the long descending cantabiles and upward chain of trills, Andsnes plays the transitional measures leading into the Rondo gorgeously. In the Rondo proper, however, Andsnes’ clean traversal of the solo part is reserved to a fault: he doesn’t let loose in the unaccompanied passages as he often does in concert.

But he does so in the Choral Fantasy’s long opening solo cadenza, if not quite with the nervous energy and animal abandon of Rudolf Serkin or Anton Kuerti. Here the Mahler Chamber Orchestra truly comes into its own with crisply sprung rhythms, pinpointed note attacks, and vividly characterized first-desk playing in the variations–no reticent bassoonist this time! The rapid back and forth piano/orchestra exchanges are as exciting and energetic as the Prague Philharmonic Choir’s timbral definition and clear diction. Who would have predicted the Choral Fantasy to be the Andsnes Beethoven Journey’s high point?

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Leif Ove Andsnes (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Fantasia in C minor, Op. 80 "Choral Fantasy" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Leif Ove Andsnes (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Non Emotional  February 8, 2015 By anthony  f. See All My Reviews "Music is suppose to touch the heart. This recording is technically and sonically perfect. However, to me it lacks the emotion I seek in music. When I seek to be moved by this piece I will continue to play Alfred Brendel's or Cliburn. Some day robots will play music to perfection, but it will not be moving. A little less technically and more from the heart is what many performers are lacking." Report Abuse
 Leif Ove Andsnes is the Emperor October 6, 2014 By James Kendall (PETALUMA, CA) See All My Reviews "Decades back, at an San Francisco Symph. Open Rehearsal I beheld Alicia De Laroccha perform Beethoven's Emperor. I was front-row and could intimately watch Alicia's hands, just above, upon the keys. I have always treasured the memory of that experience. Today over KDFC-FM I listened to Leif Ove Andsnes out-perform Alicia; and that over the radio. It was like hearing Beethoven's Emperor Concerto for The First Time. On places where Beethoven's "I'm so great" pedantry is executed with somnolence, and so by most virtuosos, Leif picks up the pace and nuance, and lends a giggle and dance to Ludwig's seriousness. Ten years ago a DJ with KUSC-FM in L.A. was wont to introduce performances of Leif Ove Andsnes with such passion, and frequency, I was convinced she was personally in love with him. Now up in the airwaves of KUSC's sister-satellite KDFC-FM, of S.F., I now possess the musical-maturity to "take her point"! TOP of my "Wish List"! And with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, it's a case of hands-in-gloves." Report Abuse
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