Magazine article Gramophone

Beethoven: Piano Concertos

Magazine article Gramophone

Beethoven: Piano Concertos

Article excerpt

Piano Concertos--No 1, Op 19; No 2, Op 15

Hannes Minnaar pf Netherlands Symphony Orchestra / Jan Willem de Vriend

Challenge Classics (F) [SACD] CC72712 (65' * DDD/DSD)


I much enjoyed the first instalment of Beethoven's piano concertos with this all Dutch line-up, which boldly began with the Fourth and Fifth (8/15). And there's no slackening-off of quality in this second volume. The B flat (No 2) can seem in some cycles a bit of a poor relation, but not here: the long opening tutti of the first movement is, in Jan Willem de Vriend's hands, by turns yearning and punchily energetic, with vibrato used sparingly in the strings. Hannes Minnaar doesn't by any means underplay the movement's Mozartian qualities but he also relishes its thoroughly Beethovenian figuration and drive. The slow movement doesn't hang about, and Minnaar's range of articulation is engaging; if the lower strings are less characterful than those of the Mahler CO in their upward scales (2'26" of tr 2), that's a minor detail. They give a quiedy ebullient reading of the finale, perhaps too understated for some--but one full of colour and a subde appreciation of Beethoven's harmonic swerves.

The very different sound world of the C major Concerto (No 1), with its addition of clarinets, trumpets and timpani, is here emphasised by the orchestra's use of old brass instruments and a timpanist who, as in the first volume, is clearly enjoying himself. …

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