Beethoven Piano Concertos 3, 4 & 5 - HMV Choice

Following the release of their acclaimed set of Mozart symphonies last year, the SCO return under the baton of Sir Charles Mackerras to record Beethoven's last three great piano concertos.

Portuguese pianist Artur Pizarro gives a performance which shifts between the vigorous and the restrained, He's perhaps less aggressive an exponent of Beethoven than Mackerras himself, who wisely tones down the energy of his orchestra attack in order to match his soloist's more lyrical reading of the score.

Amazingly, the 5th concerto - the ‘Emperor' - was flawlessly recorded, almost live, in an unexpected excess of studio time on the final day. But although it's almost certainly the most well-known of these three works, the sublime slow movement of the 3rd concerto is what truly stands out as this collection's quite wonderful high point. Pizarro makes the music drift and glide throughout, evoking all its subtle pathos without ever shading into the obvious or the sentimental. A worthy Classic FM CD of the week.

01 July 2009