Mari Kodama / Kent Nagano

Beethoven: Piano Concertos 0-5

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In 2015, Mari Kodama and Kent Nagano released their box set on Berlin Classics of the complete piano concertos of Ludwig van Beethoven, recorded between 2003 and 2013 with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin. The triple-disc package had been issued previously as separate CDs, so this 2019 version could be considered yet another iteration except for the inclusion of an additional CD. The Piano Concerto No. 0 in E flat major appears here with the Rondo in B flat major, and the Eroica Variations in E flat major, making this updated set an option for fans of the Kodama-Nagano partnership. A juvenile work, the Piano Concerto No. 0 was probably composed when Beethoven was just 14, and its exuberant scales, cheerful mood, and Classical style show the influence of Haydn, who a few years later would become Beethoven's teacher. However, only the solo keyboard part survives today, so the reconstructed orchestral score -- presumably one based on the early 20th century arrangement by Willy Hess -- has been reshaped to suit the performers' needs and to reflect scholarship on Beethoven's early skills as an orchestrator. Both of Kodama's cadenzas are improvised, though the cadenza in the first movement was created "in consultation" with pianist Martin Galling, a proponent of Beethoven's youthful works and one of the few to record the piece. This concerto, like the unfinished Piano Concerto No. 6 in D major and Beethoven's piano and orchestra arrangement of his Violin Concerto, remains a curiosity promoted by a handful of specialists, but because of its slightness, it is unlikely to find a permanent place in the concert repertoire.

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