Piotr Anderszewski / Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen

Beethoven: Bagatelles, Op. 126; Piano Concerto No. 1

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After making his recording debut with the Diabelli Variations in 2000, young Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski continued to show an affinity for Beethoven. He briefly returned to the German master's music in a 2004 disc coupling Webern's Variations and Bach's English Suite in D minor, BWV 811, with Beethoven's A flat major Sonata, Op. 110. But this 2008 disc is Anderszewski's first full-fledged return to Beethoven, and it includes his first shot at one of his concertos. In this ingeniously juxtaposed program, Anderszewski opens with Beethoven's last published work for solo piano, the six Bagatelles, Op. 126, and closes with his first published work for piano and orchestra, the Concerto No. 1 in C major. In the bagatelles, Anderszewski proves as impressive as he had in the Diabelli Variations. His technique is muscular but nuanced, his tone big but subtle, and his temper witty but tender -- all qualities that work brilliantly in these quirky but endearing pieces. In the concerto, Anderszewski shows another side of himself, and while his technique and tone are essentially unaltered, his temper is much mellower and his interpretations more exuberant. This change entirely suits the concerto, a polished piece of writing by the young Beethoven in his best high classical mode. As he had in his earlier pairs of recordings of Mozart's piano concertos, Anderszewski directs from the keyboard, and as before, it works out wonderfully well with the players of Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie Bremen engaging the piano player as the first among equals. The sound is slightly distant, but very atmospheric.

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