Beethoven: Piano Concertos: No. 2 in B flat, Op. 19; No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: NAIVE
WORKS: Piano Concertos: No. 2 in B flat, Op. 19; No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
PERFORMER: François-Frédéric Guy (piano); Radio France PO/Philippe Jordan
CATALOGUE NO: V 5179

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These warm and meticulously detailed performances find François-Frédéric Guy and Philippe Jordan taking the opening movement of the C minor Third Concerto at a steady four-to-the-bar tempo that allows them to give full weight to the march-like main theme, and especially its repeated-rhythm tail-end (memorably transferred to the timpani in the closing moments).

The slow movement is deeply expressive, and the finale, sensibly following on as an attacca, receives an appropriately unhurried reading, too.

Only a couple of tiny details mar the very high standard of the performance as a whole. The first is of little account, but it’s a pity that a poor edit momentary disturbs the flow of the left-hand part in a solo passage near the start of the first movement’s recapitulation; and Jordan’s treatment of the Concerto’s ending, where Beethoven wraps up proceedings with a series of full-blooded cadences, is curious.

The cadences ought to be rock-steady, but Jordan – presumably in a misfired attempt to lend it greater emphasis – delays the final hammer-blow, and the effect ends up sounding faintly comic.

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These are, however, altogether impressive accounts, with Guy giving an imposing rendition of the grandiose cadenza that Beethoven supplied for No. 2 a full decade after he’d completed the work, and responding well to the wit of the final rondo. Warmly recommended, even to those who already own several versions of these much-recorded works. Misha Donat