Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam: Eduard van Beinum and Myra Hess = BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 “Emperor”; SCHUMANN: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 –Dame Myra Hess, piano/Concertgebouw Orch./Eduard van Beinum – Tahra

by | Jul 5, 2009 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam: Eduard van Beinum and Myra Hess = BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 “Emperor”; SCHUMANN: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 –Dame Myra Hess, piano/Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam/Eduard van Beinum

Tahra TAH 672, 71:20 [www.tahra.com] ****:

Dame Myra Hess (1890-1965) appears twice at the Concertgebouw on this fine CD reissue, first in the Beethoven Emperor Concerto (15 October 1952) and then in the Schumann Concerto (15 November 1956), both in collaboration with the reliable Eduard van Beinum (1900-1959). Never the apostle of technical infallibility, Hess did bring a consistently poetic diction to her concerto repertory, of which only the Schumann found commercial inscriptions. For those who collect Beinum’s generous discography, the Emperor adds to the Third Concerto (with Solomon Cutner) and the First and Fourth Concerto (with Robert Casadesus; another G Major extant with Theo van der Pas).

Besides the Hess contribution of shapely figures and an exalted, taut line, abetted by excellent sound, Beinum relishes the interplay of his clarinet, flute, tympani, and horns as they embellish the keyboard fioritura. The naturalness of Hess’s approach casts a refreshed, unmannered light on Beethoven’s alternately fleet and titanic gestures, the scale and aural potency of the ensemble high. The French horn part in the recapitulation proves engaging, just before Hess enters with a series of light, pearly scales that lead to the thunderous, dotted theme with its rails against mortality. No less moving is the Hess equivalent of as music-box in the brief cadenza. The inexorable momentum to the first movement coda enjoys a plastic canter whose lyricism gains an added luster from Beinum’s meticulous insistence on the vocal horn parts. Despite a few moments of sonic drop-out, the Adagio communicates both serenity and poised intimacy, qualities that carry over into the fervent, often bubbling Rondo movement that starts most explosively. The ensuing variations allow Hess to exult in those tender applications of nuance that reveal her innate wit and affection for this work, which she performed often, and always with a savoir faire that well compensates for her limits as “pure” virtuoso.

Of all the concertos in the Hess repertory, the Schumann stands out, along with the Mozart E-flat Concerto, K. 271, as her favorite. Schumann’s often naïve melos appealed to Hess’s application of plain-spoken, unadorned ariosi in her keyboard style—best exemplified in the Andantino-Intermezzo movement of the concerto.  Occasional ritards and decrescendos in order to accent the emotional tenor of the piece come as part and parcel of her legacy. Schumann rather undermines his own dramatic pulse by insisting that each melody receive two turns, but Hess and Beinum let the composer’s sincerity reign over his iconoclastic classicism. A relatively subdued realization of the first movement cadenza leads to a virile march and stunning stretti, the last four chords resounding with dire authority.  The otherwise lovely Andantino and Allegro vivace each suffers some competing transmission noise in the original tape. The poised Rondo comes off suite splendidly, if only because of the unanimity of conception between the principals, their common joie de vivre.  We must thank Tahra for having added the only Schumann that currently exists in the Beinum catalogue.

–Gary Lemco


 
 

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