CBSO/ An­der­szewski

The Guardian - G2 - - Live Reviews - An­drew Cle­ments

★★★★☆ Sym­phony Hall, Birm­ing­ham

For such a self­crit­i­cal artist as Piotr An­der­szewski, who takes metic­u­lous care over ev­ery­thing he plays, di­rect­ing pi­ano con­cer­tos from the key­board makes to­tal sense. He’s recorded Mozart pi­ano con­cer­tos with the Scot­tish Cham­ber Or­ches­tra and the Cham­ber Or­ches­tra of Europe, but south of the bor­der at least he has only ap­peared oc­ca­sion­ally in that dual role. One of those was a con­cert with the SCO al­most 11 years ago, when coin­ci­den­tally An­der­szewski played the same pair of con­cer­tos that he pre­sented here with the CBSO – Haydn’s D ma­jor Pi­ano Con­certo, and Beethoven’s First Con­certo in C.

Clearly he thinks these two con­cer­tos go well to­gether, and cer­tainly his per­for­mance of the Haydn trans­formed it from a stan­dard ex­am­ple of 18th-cen­tury clas­si­cism into a piece of en­gag­ing el­e­gance and wit that stood up well along­side the con­ven­tion-bust­ing ex­u­ber­ance of early Beethoven. His typ­i­cally crisp rhythms and clean, crys­talline sound gave it buoy­ancy and sparkling vi­tal­ity, which the CBSO seemed de­lighted to fol­low. The solo play­ing in the Beethoven was just as poised and con­trolled, but the ef­fect was far grander and more im­pos­ing, even wild in the fi­nale, so that it seemed to come from a dif­fer­ent world al­to­gether. It was far away from the Mozart pi­ano con­certo in the same key, K503, which seems to have served as Beethoven’s model.

There was also some Mozart be­tween the Haydn and Beethoven, the G mi­nor sym­phony K550. There were no con­ces­sions to pe­riod-per­for­mance niceties, and An­der­szewski’s con­duct­ing seemed to rely a lot on en­thu­si­asm, but his char­ac­ter­is­tic clar­ity and surg­ing en­ergy were cer­tainly con­veyed in the CBSO’s play­ing.

Crys­talline sound … Piotr An­der­szewski

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