Following his acclaimed recording of sonatas by contemporaries of Beethoven, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet further celebrates the great composer’s anniversary year with this set of the complete Piano Concertos. Electing to direct the Swedish Chamber Orchestra from the keyboard, Jean-Efflam writes: ‘To play a concerto under a conductor who shares and enriches one’s vision of the work concerned is one of the greatest joys in the life of a soloist. Nevertheless, one can also admit that some aspects of performing without a conductor may prove advantageous. Rehearsal time is generally speaking made longer by the process of working out the different protocol of gestures from the soloist and the leader in coordinating the ensemble playing. As this work proceeds a creative bond is forged, resulting in an artistic osmosis, a common vision of the work, in which compromise has no place. For the pianist there is also the delight of appearing face to face with the entire orchestra, in direct visual communication, the musicians perhaps more likely to take personal initiatives, thus multiplying the pleasure of a genuine participation, dialogue, and musical exchange.’ The cadenzas used in this recording are all Beethoven’s, from the set that he wrote out in 1809, and so are contemporaneous with the Fifth Concerto. The set includes the Quintet for Piano and Winds, Op. 16, and is recorded in Surround Sound.
BBC Music Magazine November 2020
This latest set in a year that threatens a surfeit of Beethoven piano concerto releases gets better as it goes along...in the grandeur, sweep and spontaneity he brings to the opening movement of the Emperor Concerto one feels this pianist-conductor’s full powers are released at last – limited only, perhaps, by the relatively small-hall acoustic of the recording.
(Performance) **** / (Recording) ***
Sunday Times 25th October 2020
Many of the tempos are unusually quick, but they sound right, so crisp is the orchestral playing and so snappy the rhythms. The lean sound of the Yamaha piano suits the interpretation ideally.