Beethoven Piano Concertos – Paul Lewis & Jiří Bělohlávek [Harmonia Mundi]

0 of 5 stars

Piano Concerto No.1 in C, Op.15
Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat, Op.19
Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.37
Piano Concerto No.4 in G, Op.58
Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat, Op.73 (Emperor)

Paul Lewis (piano)

BBC Symphony Orchestra
Jiří Bělohlávek

Recorded July & November 2009 and March 2010 in BBC Maida Vale Studios and Air Studios, London

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: July 2010
HMC902053.55 (3 CDs)
Duration: 2 hours 56 minutes



This keenly anticipated set of recordings will have the widest possible publicity during BBC Proms 2010 when Paul Lewis plays Beethoven’s five piano concertos with different conductors, one of them being Jiří Bělohlávek (who will lead numbers 1 and 4). Billed by Harmonia mundi as “Complete Piano Concertos”, this isn’t strictly accurate, for not included here are the early ‘without opus number’ E flat concerto (WoO 4) written in 1784 by the 13-year-old Beethoven (a trifle when compared to the concertante works that followed it) and also his own transcription for piano of the Violin Concerto (which can legitimately be claimed as a piano concerto, not least for it having been effected by Beethoven’s own hand).

Lewis and Bělohlávek give us direct and focussed performances, without interpretative blarney or whimsy, the product of serious study, rumination and preparation, and with a desire to present this so-familiar and oft-recorded music in as truthful a way as possible and with no need for being consciously ‘different’ for its own sake. In this aim these readings are very successful, achieved with newness and without contempt.

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