Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3; Piano Concerto No. 4; Piano Concerto No. 5; Choral Fantasia

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 3; Piano Concerto No. 4; Piano Concerto No. 5; Choral Fantasia
PERFORMER: Julius Katchen (piano)LSO & Chorus/Piero Gamba
CATALOGUE NO: 440 839-2 ADD (1959-65)
Julius Katchen was best known for his Brahms, but his pianism – muscular yet agile and sensitive – was also ideal for Beethoven. The highlight here is a superb ‘Emperor’, Katchen in total control but never over-careful. The energised LSO is suitably exuberant, but risks ungainliness

Advertisement

in No. 4’s Andante, where stridency threatens the delicate balance between orchestra and soloist. Also in the G major Concerto, Katchen opts for a first-movement cadenza whose rampant virtuosity is like a whirlpool in a millpond. No. 3 is another hit, though, and the Choral Fantasia, which in some hands sounds like an expendable footnote to the Ninth Symphony, is stunning. Christopher Wood