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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Aparté
WORKS: Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2
PERFORMER: Louis Schwizgebel (piano); London Philharmonic Orchestra/Thierry Fischer


27-year-old Swiss pianist Louis Schwizgebel came second in the Leeds Piano Concerto in 2012, and is now a BBC New Generation Artist. Even in such a crowded field as the Beethoven concertos, this is an exciting album. Schwizgebel’s playing is poised, lively and full of subtle, changing detail.

The first movement of the Concerto No. 1 swings by with a real sense of dialogue, not only between piano and orchestra but between the pianist’s right and left hands. Schwizgebel gives the slow movement its due weight without overloading it, and if he brings perhaps a lighter, spikier touch to its vamping-style left-hand figures than some might, this serves to balance out the glassy dreaminess of the orchestral tone at the start. Thierry Fischer has cultivated a buoyant, purposeful Beethoven sound with the LPO; there’s a pleasingly astringent wind tone at times, and some crisply elegant string playing.

Schwizgebel approaches the lighter Concerto No. 2 with understated playfulness. A brief slowing-down in the finale as the theme travels to one of its furthest keys is really the only time on this disc that Schwizgebel’s interpretation jars a bit; but the way he and Fischer handle the end of the slow movement, creating a sense of unforced stillness through absolute simplicity, is enchanting.


Erica Jeal