Boris Berezovsky, piano
Swedish Chamber Orchestra
Thomas Dausgaard, conductor
April 2006
SIMAX

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Beethoven: The Complete Orchestral Works, Volume 7

About the Album – SIMAX

The works on this seventh volume in this series originates from a particularly fruitful time in Beethoven”s career as a composer, around the same time as his fourth and fifth symphony and the Razumovsky quartets. He continues to expand the formal boundaries for the concerto, and the result is of course some of the most fantastic music ever written.

Beethoven wrote the piano concertos with himself in mind as soloist, the fourth was in fact the last one to be premiered with Beethoven at the piano. This was of course due to this growing deafness in later years. But on the 22nd of December 1808 he was in charge of a magnificent concerto, containing the premieres of the fifth and sixth symphonies, the Choral Fantasy, parts of the Mass in C and the fourth piano concerto.

Beethoven”s editor Muzio Clementi (yes, the one with the sonatinas…) persuaded him to make a transcription of the violin concerto with the piano as solo instrument when making an agreement for publishing in England. The reasoning behind this request was simply to get more performances of the work, as piano concertos was by far the most popular genre at the time. In fact, we owe it to this transcription that we have a cadenza for this concerto, as Beethoven made one for first movement of the piano version, while leaving it out in the original.

Just listen to that Boris…music in the moment

Capturing the music of the moment, Boris Berezovsky is an unconventional artist in 2005. His name always pops up when the term “virtuoso” is being discussed, of course based on the total control of musical expression and instrument that he displays. And coming from the great Russian tradition, his approach may differ from the western way of doing things these days. What is perhaps the most fascinating in Boris” Beethoven-playing is how he manages to conjure up such intensity and focus within the historically informed framework being set up by Dausgaard and the SwCO, resulting in relentless and always informing and interesting moments of music.

Reviews

“In taking up Clementi’s suggestion that he should transcribe the solo part to his Violin Concerto for piano in 1807, Beethoven was surely driven by commercial self-interest rather than creative necessity. Yet in the hand of such a pianist as Berezovsky, the work can sound unexpectedly convincing. Indeed his performance is quite stunning.” – BBC Music Magazine *****

Best of 2006: 

Continuing Simax’s unique Beethoven cycle, which has approached this mostly very well-known music with a serious sense of discovery, each of the performances on this new release illuminate the composer, although in strikingly different ways. The Third Piano Concerto is a compelling combination of lithe, concise and powerful, taking the listener inside the structural blueprints of the music for a purposeful ride through some extraordinary drama and beauty. Speeds are on the quick side, with the central Largo being almost brutish in the harsh, clipped opening accents. Berezovsky uses Beethoven’s cadenzas, playing them as if they had just come off the presses – they sound fresh and spontaneous.

Berezovsky’s performance of the composer’s own piano transcription of his Violin Concerto transforms the piece from an awkward stepchild into a wonderfully imaginative fantasy that at times is surprisingly close to the elaborate Italianate figurations of near Beethoven contemporaries like Boccherini. It’s a provocative conception, lighter in tone and lacking in the majesty that Daniel Barenboim for one brings to the transcription, but it is so startling that you may well think you are hearing the music for the first time. And of course, you get Beethoven’s great cadenzas, which he wrote for the piano version, with the timpani hammering away as if the Concerto had been written for it as well.

Working with his excellent chamber orchestra, Dausgaard continues to make his orchestral cycle something to treasure. Simax’s sound is not outrageously beautiful, but its clarity and depth is amazing, and it takes volume incredibly well. If you’re in the mood, it’s like driving a Beethoven Porsche: strap yourself in, start the engine, and let her rip.” – Audiophile Audition

Tracklisting

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58
1. Allegro moderato 18:11
2. Andante con moto 4:34
3. Rondo. Vivace 9:54

Piano Concerto in D major (after the Violin Concerto, Op. 61), Op. 61a
4. Allegro ma non troppo 20:49
5. Larghetto 9:33
6. Rondo (Allegro) 9:07

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