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.
– Laurence Vittes