WORKS: Piano Concertos: No. 4 in G, Op. 58; in D, Op. 61 (arr. Violin Concerto)
PERFORMER: Ronald Brautigam (piano); Norrköping SO/Andrew Parrott
CATALOGUE NO: BIS SACD-1693 (hybrid CD/SACD)
This fascinating disc presents two very familiar works in unfamiliar guises. Beethoven’s own piano version of his Violin Concerto has generally had a bad press, and indeed it shows signs of having been thrown together in haste.
Its chief interest lies in the cadenzas Beethoven subsequently supplied for it: the first of them is on a large scale, and incorporates a march-like passage in which the solo piano is joined by timpani – a scoring Beethoven also used in the finale of the Emperor Concerto, composed around the same time.
In the outer movements of the Fourth Concerto, Brautigam makes use of a wealth of embellishments and alterations Beethoven scribbled down in the score for his own use when he gave its first public performance in December 1808.
The changes – long considered undecipherable, until Beethoven scholar Barry Cooper managed to transcribe them – are particularly striking in the central section and coda of the first movement, as well as the approaches to the various reprises of the finale’s rondo theme.
Brautigam’s tempos are characteristically brisk, but he gives dazzling performances of both works, supported by the stylish, non-vibrato playing of the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Parrott. Misha Donat