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Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 / Kodama, Nagano, Deutsches So Berlin

Release Date: 02/24/2009 
Label:  Analekta   Catalog #: 2995   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BEETHOVEN Piano Concertos: No. 1; No. 2 Mari Kodama (pn); Kent Nagano, cond; German SO Berlin ANALEKTA 2 9955 (67:36)

One may well question whether new recordings of these warhorses are necessary in a market that is already abounding in fine ones. At the same time, when the performances are as stylish and idiomatic as these are, the only conclusion possible is that Kodama (who is also currently engaged in recording the composer’s sonatas) may well emerge as a formidable Beethovenian. The First Concerto is Read more especially impressive, in ways redolent of the long-revered accounts of Schnabel and Fleisher. The opening movement is grand and unhurried, yet never stolid; its development section, magical. There Kodama broadens the pulse slightly, thereby heightening the effect of Beethoven’s chromatic writing and capturing the almost other worldly ethos that leads up to the recapitulation; as Fleisher and Schnabel did, she favors a left-hand anticipation of the downbeat that, in effect, generates the reprise. Note, too, her interesting, dynamic inflections that lend variety to each of the finale’s three statements of the movement’s main theme. The slow movements of both works are beautifully sustained, the tiny cadenza-like passage near the close of the one in No. 2 projected with a gentle, delicate simplicity that makes one afraid to breathe. And the outer movements of the work are every bit as impressive, the finale of No. 2 emerging in all of its delightful playfulness. In both concertos, Kodama favors Beethoven’s most familiar (late) cadenzas, that in the first movement of No. 1 given an especially rhapsodic and improvisational reading at once musical, virtuosic, and thrilling.

The one (minor) drawback to this release is engineering that places the piano very close, some winds at too great a distance, and lends the orchestral sound a coarse harshness in tutti passages. If this release marks the beginning of a cycle of the five concertos, I say bring it on. The competition—from Schnabel, Fleisher, and Kempff, to Brendel, Pollini, Perahia, and Schiff—is, of course, fierce. But one never knows what new insights Kodama might provide.

FANFARE: Mortimer H. Frank
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793/1798; Vienna, Austria 
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795; Vienna, Austria 

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