Piano Concerto No. 3; Triple Concerto
Antje Weithaas (violin), Marie-Elisabeth Hecker (cello), Martin Helmchen (piano); Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Andrew Manze
Alpha Classics ALPHA 642 70:02 mins
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor marks the bridge between his early work and the mature masterpieces to come – still nodding to Mozart but with strong anticipation of the heft and drama of the later piano concertos. The extended orchestral opening is here cleanly sculpted with a fine sense of drama by Andrew Manze and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, before the entrance of the piano in rising scales, exquisitely judged by Martin Helmchen. The second movement is held on gossamer strings, as the piano motifs rise, oscillating, up the keyboard. Helmchen’s playing is full of expression, subtlety, intelligence and energy, and it marries well with Manze’s approach to the orchestra.
Written in 1803, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in C major is rather more of the triple, rather less of the concerto, at least as far as the orchestra are concerned, who spend most of their time fleshing out the intertwining strands of the piano, cello and violin without much complication.
The trick for the soloists is to play it as the souped-up trio that it is. No battle for supremacy here amongst these soloists – all accomplished chamber musicians in their own right – although the cello steals it in the score, leading in the combined forces at each turn, here played with great lyricism and touch by Marie-Elisabeth Hecker. The generous interplay between the three soloists – Helmchen and violinist Antje Weithaas alongside Hecker – is a joy, finely judged, sensitive and exuberant in turn, and full of refreshing clarity.
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Sarah Urwin Jones