Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3; Triple Concerto

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Simax
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 3; Triple Concerto
PERFORMER: Urban Svensson (violin), Mats Rondin (cello), Boris Berezovsky (piano); Swedish CO/Thomas Dausgaard
CATALOGUE NO: PSC 1183
The Dausgaard/Swedish Chamber Orchestra partnership produced some fine things in Beethoven’s symphonies, and it’s good to find them on the same form in these two concertos. The blending of modern instruments and period performing styles is every bit as vital and convincing as before. In the orchestral opening sections of both concertos they create a delicious sense of anticipation – anticipation which is only partly fulfilled by the soloists. Boris Berezovsky is a fine, characterful pianist. His playing in both works has its exquisite moments. Sparkling clarity and teasing wit can be found even in passages where you might not expect such qualities. In Berezovsky’s hands, the C minor Piano Concerto isn’t the titanic struggle it’s often made out to be – the emergence of the major key in the finale isn’t projected as a triumph, more a recovery of temporarily lost high spirits.

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But in the Triple Concerto violinist Urban Svensson and cellist Mats Rondin are fainter presences. That could be partly a result of the recording balance, and yet their playing has a reined-in feeling beside the more outgoing Berezovsky. A pity because there are passages – the brilliant, exhilarating fast coda of the first movement for example, or the brief but exquisite Largo – where you momentarily sense something special. In the Triple Concerto, Oistrakh, Richter and Rostropovich’s classic status remains unchallenged, and much as I enjoyed this C minor Piano Concerto, I wouldn’t swap it for Perahia and Haitink on Sony – a very different, more Romantic view of the work, but consistently satisfying. Stephen Johnson