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CD Review

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Concertos

  • Concerto for Piano #4 in G Major, Op. 58
  • Concerto for Piano #5 "Emperor" in E Flat Major, Op. 73
Mario Galeani, piano
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Grzegorz Nowak
RPO SP013 74m DDD
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Beethoven's final two piano concertos are quite contrasting in character but each has its own particular appeal from the soft Elysian calm of the 4th to the heroic triumphalism of the 5th. I was weaned on these concertos by two pianists, Rudolf Kempe and Daniel Barenboim in their trend setting recordings of the late 1960's and early 1970's with Karl Böhm and Otto Klemperer respectively.

This new recording with Mario Galeani and Grzegorz Nowak reminded me of those seminal performances as the music sounds as fresh as a daisy and the wonderful interplay between soloist and conductor is palpable just as with Barenboim and Klemperer who although separated by over half a century in age spoke in one voice. The 4th Concerto contains some lovely lyrical pieces and these come alive in a manner which is truly quite special here.

The "Emperor" concerto also has the RPO on absolute top form throughout with the recording balance delightfully rich and homogeneous. Galeani is never rushed or hurried and he plays the part with extreme technical conviction again ably supported by Nowak. This is surely a version of the 5th to cherish. As already indicated, recordings are of the top drawer quality with ample notes for those who enjoy such material. A real winner from the RPO stable of thoroughbreds.

Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech