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Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 4; Ravel, Franck / Moravec


Release Date: 02/24/2004 
Label:  Supraphon   Catalog #: 3714   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenCésar FranckMaurice Ravel
Performer:  Ivan Moravec
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Ivan Moravec's interpretation of Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto has changed little between his 1963 recording and his remake 40 years later. His tonally refined and highly articulated fingerwork remains utterly intact, and he still favors basically swift tempos (notably in the slow movement) as well as the less-common first-movement cadenza that Brendel, Gilels, and Gieseking played. But the earlier recording's closer miking and warmer ambience creates an intimate, more instrumentally varied sound picture, although Moravec's piano dominates the balance. Comparing Moravec's remake of the Franck Symphonic Variations to his 1976 recording, he now employs less tempo fluctuation and does not round off phrases as frequently during solo Read more sections. If anything, his fingers achieve greater sparkle and point in the final pages. Still, the chamber orchestra dimensions of Jiri Belohlavek's Prague Philharmonia seem shortchanged next to the Czech Philharmonic's heft and presence in the earlier recording.


Although Ravel scored his G major concerto for full orchestra, the concertante, chamber-like quality of his orchestration easily lends itself to smaller forces. At first Belohlavek's basic tempo for the first movement appears slower than Ravel's Allegramente directive, yet it allows Moravec time to spell out and truly define the cross-handed arpeggios. He may not match his one-time teacher Michelangeli's "musical saw" paradigm in the famous first-movement trills, yet he avoids that master's sometimes affected "breaking of hands" in the slow movement. The Prague musicians come into their own in the Presto, with all the solos turned out like a perfectly pressed tuxedo, while Moravec uncovers the melodic essence underneath the piano writing's toccata-like exterior. Listeners accustomed to brasher, over-the-top Ravel Concerto recordings from Katchen and Argerich may find Moravec a bit cool and restrained. However, his classical poise and subtle yet fastidious sense of detail (and Belohlavek's too) yield additional felicities with each rehearing.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Ivan Moravec (Piano)
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
2. Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra, M 46 by César Franck
Performer:  Ivan Moravec (Piano)
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885; France 
3. Concerto for Piano in G major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Ivan Moravec (Piano)
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1931; France 

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