Lebrecht Weekly | Beethoven: 1st piano concerto, &c (DG)

Advertisement / Publicité

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

  • Deutsche Grammophon
  • User Ratings (4 Votes)

This weirdly unbalanced album opens with a live performance of Beethoven’s first piano concerto and continues with solo pieces from the bottom drawer, some of which are little higher than kindergarten level in difficulty. No explanation is offered in the glossy booklet.

To work out what’s really going on, you’ll have to delve into the background of Alice Sara Ott, the German-Japanese soloist who, four years ago, made it known that she had been stricken with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative condition. In sympathy and solidarity, her record label has been quietly gathering her unreleased material while Alice continues to enhance her reputation at live as and when she can manage. Last week, for example, was a good week; she played the thunderous Grieg concerto in Lille, France, to a tremendous reception. At 35, an exact contemporary of Yuja Wang, Alice ranks among the most interesting interpreters of her generation.

Advertisement / Publicité

This album is no let-down. The concerto flickers with fire and ice in the solo passages, steering between passages of orchestral bombast that prefigure Beethoven’s symphonies. Karina Canellakis conducts the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra with admirable poise, letting the soloist present a contemplative contrast to the hustle and bustle, notably in the Largo middle movement.

Alice follows the concerto with a solitary reading of the Moonlight Sonata, introspective and glistening like a somnambulistic salmon on Atlantic migration. Why she then felt a need to play the hackneyed Für Elise is incomprehensible but she does so with a laconic twinkle that stands in ironic contrast to the phony solemnity of Lang Lang and other chest-beaters.

The remaining four Beethoven pieces are short, uncatalogued and not altogether remarkable. The last, in B minor, ends somehow up in the air, without resolution. I think we can guess the meaning. It is profoundly moving.

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.