Lars Vogt

Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 4

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This is the final volume in a Beethoven concerto cycle by German pianist Lars Vogt that has been generally acclaimed for its freshness and detail. Vogt both plays and conducts the Royal Northern Sinfonia, of which he is music director, and the result has been interpretations in which pianist and orchestra achieve an unusual kind of sync. The results are spectacular in the Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, where Vogt eases into each movement, as it were, letting details accrete and add power. Sample the final movement, where the orchestra begins at a very low dynamic level, and Vogt weaves piano and orchestra together convincingly as the music proceeds. The first two movements open in circumspect ways but, as they develop, reveal Beethoven the virtuoso as Viennese audiences must have experienced him; note especially the curious clipped treatment of the second movement's orchestral theme, so different from the stomping giant favored by most conductors. The final diminished fifth comes out in sharp, chilling relief here. Vogt's approach is a bit less successful in the early Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19, where the syncopations ring and rock, but the basic Mozartian shapes of the themes are indistinct. Nevertheless, Vogt's Beethoven recordings are major statements, and this album is no exception.

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