[76] Ludwig van Beethoven – Piano Concertos Nos. 4 and 5

19 Sep

Wait – didn’t we just hear these?

Arthur Schoonderwoerd with the Cristofori Ensemble

Arthur Schoonderwoerd with the Cristofori Ensemble

In some ways, this is the inverse of the situation I found myself in while listening to The Late Quartets – I have a recent familiarity with a huge orchestral style recording of the music at hand, and here the whole has been scaled way back.

In this case it begins as an almost academic exercise, reducing the number of instruments (as well as their actual construction) from modern norms to the best approximation of what would have been played at the time of composition.

But there is nothing academic about the nimble and lively sound that results.  I almost don’t recognize the 4th – which had so underwhelmed me just a week ago – as the same piece!

Moon had an uphill task convincing me that, with such a finite number of recordings to be included, there was any reason to allow the same work to take up two spots out of the 1,000.

Schoonderwoerd manages it before the end of the first movement.

The sound is brighter and somehow more immediate than the Serkin recording, at once subtler and more focused.  Much of this stems from the almost familiar sound of the fortepiano which remains far more front and center here, interacting with individual instruments rather than banks of strings and brass.

It is an interesting if fruitless exercise to wonder whether I would have recommended last week’s selection if I had heard this abbreviated but perhaps superior one first?

We’ll never know.  And I’ll likely never care . . .

Next Week: Ludwig van Beethoven – 9 Symphonies

Owned before blogging? No. (9 of 76 = 12%)
Heard before blogging? No. (11 of 76 = 14%)
Recommend? Yes. (61 of 76 = 80%)

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