BEETHOVEN Piano Concertos: No. 1 in C, Op. 15; No. 3 in c, Op. 37 • Leif Ove Andsnes (pn, cond); Mahler C O • SONY 88725420582 (68:19)
This is a special CD: It marks Leif Ove Andsnes’s first recording of any of Beethoven’s works. And it is special in more ways than one. Andsnes,Read more like many pianists today, takes the dual role of pianist and conductor. The question is, can he handle the double responsibility? Can the musicians of the orchestra respond to him as they would a normal conductor while he is tackling the often gnarly and difficult passagework that Beethoven demands from the soloist? While there are perhaps moments in the recording when certain transitionary passages may have been a bit smoother in places with the help of a conductor, there are moments, on the other hand, that I do not think would have taken place had the soloist not been the one leading the ensemble. In my opinion, those special moments far outweigh the problematic ones. Both of these concertos (undoubtedly influenced by Mozart’s two late concertos in the same keys: the C-Minor, K 491, and the C-Major, K 503) are well paced, well performed, and captivating in these performances. The earlier C-Major Concerto is certainly seen as the lighter of the two, but not as less of a masterpiece. The opening movement is like a breath of fresh air, so crisp is the soloist’s figurations; so chamber-like is the feeling of the orchestra’s contribution. The players are obviously influenced by historically informed practices here. This is felt throughout in the highly articulated passagework—the crisp staccato, the never overindulgent legato—the overall lighter textures, and the smaller, almost fragmented quality (not in the negative sense) of each theme in relation to the next. There is a sense of proportion and balance, and never has the counterpoint in the orchestral ritornellos of the earlier concerto been clearer. The slow movement is especially beautiful in its simplicity and straightforwardness, while the quirkiness of the concluding movement—minus the odd dynamic surges in the orchestra—brings the work to a vibrant and jubilant ending. The C-Minor Concerto fares equally well. In this performance it sounds even closer to the Mozart concerto, K 491, than normally, yet it still retains its Beethovenian drive and momentum; not only do the winds stick out as an ever present force in this work, the timpani are also heard clearly throughout. The second movement is perhaps my favorite of the entire CD: Andsnes’s mezza voce lends the movement a dreamy quality, which is perfectly matched by the orchestra’s sensitive accompaniment. So closely do they match each other’s sound that the movement truly feels as though one artist was performing the whole. The opening leisurely pace of the finale works surprisingly well. The pianist subtly alters it as he moves forward, the smaller solo flourishes truly having an organic quality to them: They feel as though they were woven straight into the fabric of the movement. In the end the give and take of the players brings a sense not of competition in the concerto genre, rather one of dialogue, and even more so of growth and development through the orchestration. The more one listens to these performances, the more they grow on the listener. A minor complaint might be that the overall sound seems a bit muted and not as vibrant as it could be, but that should not keep one from sampling these performances in all their glory. I look forward to future Andsnes Beethoven performances: the rest of the concertos and the Choral Fantasy, but also, perhaps if we were lucky, some of the sonatas and variations. Well then, recommended.
Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37by Ludwig van Beethoven Performer:
Leif Ove Andsnes (Piano)
Leif Ove Andsnes
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15by Ludwig van Beethoven Performer:
Leif Ove Andsnes (Piano)
Leif Ove Andsnes
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical Written: 1795; Vienna, Austria
Average Customer Review: ( 3 Customer Reviews )
Coarse sounding MChOOctober 5, 2013By Peter T. (Bethesda, MD)See All My Reviews"LOV belongs amongst a few of my favorite pianists of his generation. Here he plays to his usual high standards but there is nothing novel or standing out in his interpretations of this repertoire. My problems with this CD are two : 1. the disconnect between the orchestra and the soloist and 2. the way the MCHO sounds. -- I was there when and where this was being recorded. From the onset it was obvious that the MCHO intents to play and sound as if it was a period instrument orchestra ( which it is not ) and that sforzandos and dynamic inflections a la N. Hornancourt are the way to play this music. On the other hand LOA, on a modern grand and playing in a conventional manner, seemed not to want to emulate the orchestra's approach. - In the same concert hall, over many years, I heard many chamber orchestras. The MCHO can be characterized as having wiry sounding strings and piercing woodwinds. So what you hear on the CD is what you would actually hear in Prague. Very accurate recording. - I was not happy there and I am not happy with this CD."Report Abuse
great performanceMarch 1, 2013By Frank Lieberman (pittsburgh, PA)See All My Reviews"I have heard Leif Ove Andsnes in live performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony and on CD and he is an electrifying performer. This is the first in a Beethoven cycle with teh Mahler Chamber Orchestra and I am eagerly awaiting the next CD."Report Abuse
Enjoyable Performances well worth owningOctober 9, 2012By Troy K. (Oro Valley, AZ)See All My Reviews"Beethoven has long been my favorite composer and I probably have more than a dozen versions of these works on disc. These performances compare favorably with many of my personal best versions. Andnes is very good and I am happy with the playing of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. The recording is taken from concerts, but I could not hear any audience noise. The recorded sound, although good, does not strike me as among the best of the recent versions I have purchased. If you are a fan of Andnes, buy this disc with confidence."Report Abuse
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