★★★★☆ 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