Beethoven, Ludwig Van / Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 4 (Leif Ove Andsnes, Pianist)
Beethoven (1770-1827) fulfilled Vienna’s anticipation of his pianoforte virtuosity and composing brilliance when he premiered the Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 19 in March 1795. He revised it twice before publication in 1801 and added a 1st mvmt cadenza in 1809. The 1st mvmt has a military air, the main theme mixing fanfares and lyrical phrases; the extended cadenza is revolutionary, breaking the Classical mold of Mozart and Haydn. The Adagio is solemn, near tragic, elegant, with a contemplative cadenza and fresh, brilliant pianism. The final Rondo is a song with joking, syncopated rhythms, and shifts between major and minor harmonies. Playful extravagance marks the piano part. The Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58 has a markedly lyrical character, without B’s frequent grandiosity. The piano opens the work, an unprecedented event in piano concertos, and the orchestra’s sensitive and harmonically remote response is a wonder. In the exuberant 1st mvmt the orchestra and piano engage in true dialogue, rather than echoing phrases, using a bouquet of themes. The Andante con moto, likened to Orpheus taming the wild beasts with his music, laments darkly before ending in sustained lyricism, from which the boisterous, witty, lyrical Rondo, perhaps a song of love, springs without a break. Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra received rave reviews for this and other Beethoven recordings.