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Track(s) taken from CKD336

Piano Concerto No 4 in G major, Op 58

1806; first performed in December 1808

Artur Pizarro (piano), Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras (conductor)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: November 2008
Perth Concert Hall, Scotland
Produced by James Mallinson
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: May 2009
Total duration: 32 minutes 8 seconds

Cover artwork: Der Wanderer über des Nebelmeer (c1818) by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
Kunsthalle, Hamburg / AKG-Images, London


'Pizarro brings the same alacrity and individuality to every one of these works as he did on the stage … these are not performances lacking in explosive voltage, as Pizarro's lightening dexterity in the 'Emperor' proves conclusively' (The Scotsman)» More

'Originally intended to include just the Third and Fourth Concertos, the addition of the Emperor was the happy result of Pizarro, Mackerras and his crack Scottish band powering through the original programme to leave time enough to capture the coupling. It's a mark of the journey they make, from the stormy, experimental sonorities of the Third to the majestic rhetoric of the Fifth via the tender lyricism of the Fourth that this turns out to be a remarkably coherent, hugely enjoyable offering rich in invention and altogether assured in execution. These studio readings exult in the vital spontaneity and alert reciprocity more typical of a live performance. Pizarro's blend of perfectly proportioned poetry, dancing lyricism and muscular prowess calls to mind earlier performances by Kempff, Kovacevich and Gilels while bringing a fresh, questing dynamism all his own to bear. He negotiates the tempestuous currents of the Third with an almost insouciant nimbleness that serves the music's impetuous, truculent demeanour. In the Fourth, he is lullaby-tender and effusively lyrical yet manages to retain the darkly alluring gravity that underpins its nobility and poise' (bbc.co.uk)» More

'Mackerras' „Klaviertrilogie“ behauptet sich durchaus ebenbürtig neben anderen legendären Einspielungen. Frei und luftig transparent klingt der Klangkörper, gleichzeitig auch schlank und filigran. Artur Pizarros Spiel integriert sich immer homogen mit dem Orchesterpart, kein Zaudern oder Abwarten kennzeichnet sein Spiel. Losgelöst von der Erdenschwere früherer Deutungsmuster manifestiert sich hier ein sanfter Beethoven, dennoch voller Farben, Licht und Kraft. Die Aufnahme steht für eine musikdramaturgisch sehr stimmige Interpretation, in die es sich einzutauchen lohnt' (Klassik.com, Germany)» More
The Piano Concerto No 4 in G major, Op 58, breaks with all previous tradition by beginning with solo piano instead of the usual extended orchestral ritornello. This unexpected opening signals that the relationship between piano and orchestra is going to be closer than normal; although the orchestra quickly takes over for its customary ritornello, it does not conclude with the usual cadence; instead it breaks off mid-phrase, with the piano re-entering quietly, in contrast to its dramatic entrance in No 3.

The slow movement is unusually brief and scored just for strings and piano, which engage in a dramatic dialogue throughout. Initially the strings sound angry, but the gentle pleading of the piano gradually softens them until they die away to a hushed pianissimo. The similarity to the ‘taming the Furies’ by Orpheus is unmistakable and has led many to assume that this is what Beethoven was attempting to portray. Yet there is no reference to Orpheus in anything written or said by Beethoven about the movement, and it seems unwise to narrow the music down to a single myth; better, surely, to regard the music as emblematic of all situations where anger is calmed by gentleness, of which Orpheus and the Furies form just one instance.

One factor that brings particular tenderness to the first two movements of this concerto is the absence of trumpets and drums. In the finale, these finally burst in and create a sense of much greater exuberance, although there are still many gentler passages that remind us of the mood of the rest of the work.

Although the concerto was composed predominantly in 1806, it was not publicly premiered until December 1808 when it was featured in a four hour all-Beethoven concert. On that occasion Beethoven played the concerto very ‘mischievously’ according to his pupil Carl Czerny, adding many more notes than were printed; sketchy indications of these extra notes are found in one of Beethoven’s manuscripts. Nevertheless the work has become known, like No 3, in its printed version, with the only addition in both cases being cadenzas that Beethoven composed in 1809 for another of his pupils, Archduke Rudolph.

from notes by Barry Cooper © 2009

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