WORKS: Piano Concerto in A minor; Piano Concerto in A minor
PERFORMER: Leif Ove Andsnes (piano); Berlin PO/Mariss Jansons
CATALOGUE NO: 5 57486 2
The Grieg and Schumann concertos are not only a popular but a logical coupling since one is modelled on the other. As a student in Leipzig, Grieg had fallen under Schumann’s spell and had heard Clara Schumann playing her husband’s Concerto: his own followed a mere nine years later. It was with the Grieg, coupled with a fine Liszt A major Concerto, that Leif Ove Andsnes made his debut in 1990 on Virgin. This time round in Mariss Jansons he is blessed with a conductor for whom any trace of the routine is alien and who so often illuminates familiar terrain.
To enter realms that have been traversed by the likes of Lipatti, Solomon, Curzon, Perahia, Kovacevich and many other great pianists must be a daunting prospect, but the freshness of approach that distinguishes Andsnes’s performances in the concert hall is well in evidence here. His virtuosity is commanding but is never at the expense of tenderness and poetic feeling; he is an aristocrat among pianists who has the gift of bringing new and deeper insights without any loss of spontaneity or the slightest trace of artifice (listen to the slow movement of the Grieg).
The Schumann is new to his discography and is also a performance of magisterial authority – and above all nobility. The recording is very lifelike and expertly balanced. This is surely to the present decade what Lipatti and Solomon were to the Fifties or Kovacevich, Perahia and Lupu were to the stereo LP era: in short, a classic version.