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Beethoven: Complete Piano Concertos / Goodyear, Constantine, BBC NOW


Release Date: 03/13/2020 
Label:  Orchid Classics   Catalog #: 100127  
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Stewart Goodyear
Conductor:  Andrew Constantine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Number of Discs: 3 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Following the success of his previous Orchid Classics albums, Stewart Goodyear returns with his spirited, insightful interpretation of the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos, recorded with Andrew Constantine conducting the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for a release that coincides with Beethoven’s 250th anniversary year.

Goodyear made his Orchid debut with an album of Ravel’s solo piano music, hailed as “a major achievement” (Classics Today). More recently, his sensational album with Chineke! Orchestra and Wayne Marshall featured Goodyear’s own music alongside Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the performance of which earned 5 stars in BBC Music Magazine. Now, Goodyear returns with perhaps his most ambitious recording yet: the
Read more complete Beethoven Piano Concertos. There is the Haydnesque wit of the Piano Concerto No.1, with its exquisite Largo; a pared-down, Mozartian orchestra for the Concerto No.2 with its playful ‘Turkish’ finale; and in the Concerto No.3, premiered alongside the Fifth Symphony, Beethoven establishes a new intimacy between soloist and orchestra. This relationship reaches new depths in the intricately-linked Piano Concerto No.4, and the set culminates in the majestic ‘Emperor’ Concerto, No.5.

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REVIEWS:

The intelligent virtuosity and stylish affinity distinguishing Stewart Goodyear’s Beethoven piano sonata cycle make themselves felt throughout these accounts of the composer’s five piano concertos. In addition to the sheer joy and exuberance Goodyear displays in the first two concertos’ outer movements, the pianist’s specificity insofar as Beethoven’s phrasing, accents, and subito dynamics are concerned enhance the music’s dramatic profile without ever sounding fussy or pedantic: indeed, quite the opposite! Note his uncommon observance of the slurs in the Rondo theme of the First concerto (sound clip), or the appropriately rabble-rousing effect Goodyear creates by emphasizing the syncopated accents in the Second concerto Finale.

The Third concerto’s central Largo sounds slightly faster than it actually is, on account of Goodyear’s tender yet shapely cantabile phrasing. The “Emperor” concerto (No. 5) stands out for the pianist’s angular thrust in the Rondo and the melting legato with which he informs his gorgeous slow movement entrance (shades of the classic Emil Gilels/Leopold Ludwig recording). On initial hearing, the first-movement Allegro seemed a bit square and emphatic, yet the interpretation’s directness grew on me, as also did my appreciation of Goodyear’s forthright mastery of every technical and musical challenge. For example, Goodyear is one of the few pianists who takes trouble contrasting the downward left-hand staccato triplets and the articulation of the right-hand double notes in the sequence beginning at measure 184.

The rapid-fire exchanges between soloist and ensemble in the Fourth concerto’s Rondo convey a genuine chamber-like repartée. While the loud tuttis have plenty of heft and presence, Andrew Constantine obtains a well-balanced and transparent orchestral image from his BBC Wales forces. For all the strings’ impeccable unanimity of execution in the central Andante, the jaunty results run counter to the music’s austere gravitas. My other quibble concerns Constantine’s occasional penchant for exaggerating diminuendos in the orchestral ritornellos, a period performance mannerism that seems to have infected many modern orchestra conductors. Elsewhere, he proves a sympathetic and equal collaborative partner, and pays welcome attention to woodwind parts that often fade into the overall texture.

Goodyear plays the longest of Beethoven’s three First concerto first-movement options, and the more commonly heard Fourth concerto first-movement cadenza featured by pianists such as Artur Schnabel, Leon Fleisher, and Claudio Arrau. In short, the Goodyear/Constantine Beethoven Concerto cycle can hold its own alongside the Bronfman/Zinman and Berezovsky/Dausgaard modern-day reference versions, not to mention older luminaries such as Uchida/Sanderling, Ashkenazy/Solti, Kempff/Leitner, and Fleisher/Szell.

– ClassicsToday.com (Jed Distler)

Glorious, life-embracing performances, very well recorded; surely a high point of the composer’s birthday year (or any other, for that matter).

– MusicWeb International (Dan Morgan) Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Stewart Goodyear (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Constantine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Stewart Goodyear (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Constantine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793/1798; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Stewart Goodyear (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Constantine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Stewart Goodyear (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Constantine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Stewart Goodyear (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Constantine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Music of unbridled joy for #Beethoven250 March 26, 2020 By Dean Frey See All My Reviews ""The sonatas were pursuits of inner truth, the symphonies pursuits of the highest qualities in humanity, the piano concertos pursuits of unbridled joy." In a heartfelt essay in the liner booklet, Stewart Goodyear notes that he waited to record the Beethoven Piano Concertos: "... it had to be at a time when I felt that I knew deeply what universal joy and delight felt like." This joy and delight is clear to hear in this 3-disc album with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Andrew Constantine, from Orchid Classics. When we think about joy and Beethoven, it's Friedrich Schiller's Ode to Joy that comes to mind: Joy, beautiful spark of Divinity, Daughter of Elysium, We enter, drunk with fire, Heavenly One, thy sanctuary! Schiller's poem was published in 1785, and revised in 1808. In between, Beethoven wrote the first four of his piano concertos; the fifth was begun in 1809. Beethoven's own apotheosis of joy came, of course, with the Schiller setting in the last movement of his Ninth Symphony in 1822/24. But I love Stewart Goodyear's characterization of this wonderful music as being in some way essentially joyful. It's the serious, grumpy stereotype of Beethoven himself that Goodyear is fighting here. Unlucky in love, navigating family difficulties, grappling with political disasters that seem as dire as our own today, experiencing the vagaries of the "gig economy" as one of the very first freelance composers, and stricken with deafness in this very period; we can feel for Beethoven today. We can even imagine a black cloud hanging over his head. Especially with the late sonatas and string quartets to come, we look to Beethoven for spiritual and aesthetic resolutions to his own pain and suffering. "The idea that happiness could have a share in beauty would be too much of a good thing", Walter Benjamin once said. But listen to the music, especially in these performances, and you'll hear incredible verve and passion, as Beethoven reaps the harvest of his own "pursuit of happiness" in his art, if not in his personal life. Perhaps it was the Mozartian model - Beethoven's 3rd Concerto in C minor owes so much to Mozart's C minor Concerto K. 491 - that helped Beethoven get over his own hump on his way to happiness. These are special performances by this team assembled by Orchid Classics: the assured and stylish playing of the BBC National Orchestra Wales shows that conductor Andrew Constantine and this fine Canadian pianist (why are there so many fine Canadian pianists, by the way?) are on the same page. I look forward to listening to these discs in regular rotation during this Beethoven Year, along with the amazing set from Richard Goode & Ivan Fischer, the equally fine recordings of Mitsuko Uchida & Kurt Sanderling, and, of course, the Wilhelm Kempff & Ferdinand Leitner set which was my first experience of this marvellous music." Report Abuse
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