Beethoven's five piano concertos relate, in a sense, part of the composers life: some twenty years during which a young musician from Bonn made several revised versions of the first concerto he wrote (a springboard to Viennese success that ended up being called no.2), before becoming the familiar Emperor of music embodied by the brilliant inspiration of no.5. Two hundred and fifty years after his birth, it is with these two extremes that Kristian Bezuidenhout, Pablo Heras-Casado and the Freiburger Barockorchester have chosen to start an exciting period-instrument trilogy of the concertos that bids fair to be a landmark!
These are invigorating performances of Beethoven’s first and last concertos, conveying an admirable sense of spontaneity…The entire performance [of No. 2] radiates energy and enjoyment… Bezuidenhout treats the flourishes at the beginning of the Emperor Concerto with a good deal of freedom, lending them an appropriately improvisatory feel…This really is exciting playing, and Bezuidenhout’s virtuosity is impressive. BBC Music Magazine *****
One of the choicest offerings thus far this celebratory Beethoven year...Bezuidenhout has a long, fruitful relationship with Freiburg...Add to the mix the lively imagination of Heras-Casado, the Freiburgers playing their hearts out, plus expert sound as clean as you’re likely to come across in 2020, and you have the makings of a hot recording. Gramophone