Beethoven: Piano Concertos

Beethoven: Piano Concertos

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet

Album review

“Jean-Efflam Bavouzet emerged as a Beethoven specialist with a generally strong cycle of piano sonatas, and he shows no compunction about entering an extremely crowded field of Beethoven concerto sets with this release, recorded in 2019 and issued in September 2020. His interpretation is distinctive in several respects and succeeds in standing out from the crowd. The first is that this is a chamber-sized Beethoven. Bavouzet is not the first to record Beethoven with a chamber orchestra, although many such recordings use historical instruments, while everything here is modern. He plays the piano and conducts the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, and he controls the interaction unusually well. He places the focus on his distinctive piano treatments, but he leaves room for small details like the growing importance of the winds in Beethoven's orchestra. Bavouzet plays a lidless piano visible in photos in the booklet, and the most striking feature here is the use he makes of it. The solo entrances in the outer movements of the earlier concertos, to use a bit of contemporary parlance, really pop, and Bavouzet draws out a good deal of contrast with second subjects that feature lyrically sustained notes. The Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, has a straightforward slow movement quite unlike the stomp fests that have become routine, but again, the subtlety and rhythmic complexity of Bavouzet's solos in the outer movements is absorbing. In the Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 ("Emperor"), Bavouzet unleashes the full ringing tone of his unusual piano, and he manages the trick of getting a really exciting, forward-moving reading of this work with a small group. With fine engineering support from a small university auditorium in Sweden, Bavouzet delivers a Beethoven concerto cycle that's worth listeners' investment of time and money.”

Album review provided by TiVo. This content is not produced by Primephonic, and any views expressed are the review author’s own.

Record label



    4 September 2020