Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.16
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.54
Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)
Recorded December 2002 in the Philharmonie, Berlin
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: September 2003
CD No: EMI 5575622
Duration: 59 minutes
A time-honoured recorded coupling of two of the most-popular piano concertos, both in A minor, which Leif Ove Andsnes and his partners make fresh and rewarding. Partner is the key word – time and time again one is aware of a close rapport between everyone involved. Although Leif Ove Andsnes joins some distinguished company in recording this pairing, he has no need to look over his shoulder.
These are wonderfully invigorating performances. Andsnes’s sheer musicianship and technical completeness illuminates both works. His evenness of delivery, a rejection of rhetoric (important in the Grieg), and a loving but never cloying approach really makes the Grieg sing and dance, here given a disarming innocence with much sensitive, chamber-like playing from the Berlin Philharmonic scrupulously but not pedantically conducted by Mariss Jansons.
Similar observations apply to the Schumann. Andsnes couldn’t make a smoother first appearance. This doesn’t mean bland, it means subtle and sensitive. This is a flowing account with poetic expression high on the agenda and some magical interplay between soloist and orchestra.
This outstanding collaboration is superbly recorded (the Schumann is live) – close but not airless, tangible without being oppressive – allowing both a full profile of Andsnes’s natural, thoughtful and accommodating playing and the refined, detailed response of the orchestra; every brushstroke of sound can be heard perfectly. I would have liked a couple more seconds gap between Schumann’s first two movements; otherwise, this is one of the records of the year.