Also, Rondo in B flat; Choral Fantasy. Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano; Thomas Zehetmair, violin; Clemens Hagen, cello. Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Warner Classics 2564 60602-2.
I immensely enjoyed this Warner Classics recording of the Beethoven Triple Concerto for a combination of reasons. First and foremost, you’ll hardly find a better played account. Aimard, Zehetmair, Hagen, Harnoncourt, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe take it more gently than I’ve heard it most often before (also surprising from Harnoncourt), yet it benefits from the tender, loving care. If I found any snag at all in it, it’s that I thought the piano sometimes sounded too big, too close, while the other two soloists seemed more realistically positioned. Well, we might expect that, I suppose, as the piano in this particular piece of music generally takes pride of place amongst all the instruments.
Second, I enjoyed the harmonious interplay among the three soloists, Aimard on piano, Zehetmair on violin, and Hagen on cello, as well as their non-obtrusive accompaniment by Harnoncourt and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. True, no one is going to mistake this group’s work for the more grand and opulent performance by Richter, Oistrakh, and Rostropovich with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic (EMI or Hi-Q), but look at what giants we had working there.
Third, I liked the two companion pieces on the disc, the Rondo in B flat, which may have been the original closing movement of the B-flat Piano Concerto, Aimard giving it a lively reading; and the Choral Fantasy, which is a sort of miniature, scaled-down Ninth Symphony, complete with a rousing choral finale.
Finally, I liked the sound: Very subtle, very refined, very natural. Perhaps not always so transparent as it might be, it always appeared wonderfully realistic and was a definite pleasure to listen to. In all, a most felicitous release.
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click here: