Paul Lewis / Jiří Bělohlávek

Beethoven: Complete Piano Concertos

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Paul Lewis and Jirí Belohlávek have produced a set of the Beethoven piano concertos that puts them closer to their Classical-era roots while conveying a sense of excitement in Beethoven's daring and innovative writing. This is not a boldly stated and theatrically dramatic reading of these works; one might say it's conservative, but not so much so that the listener can't help being moved by the rousing ending of the Emperor Concerto or caught up in the energy of the opening movement of the Concerto No. 3. Lewis gives the slow movements elegance and gracefulness with a touch that is wonderfully legato. Yet he knows how to change his articulation to help change the character and shape of each phrase throughout the concertos, adding interest to the music without overdoing any drama. He and Belohlávek work well together in this, neither one being indulgent, and with Belohlávek keeping the orchestral colors very much in line with the piano. Their interpretation sounds completely natural to Beethoven's style, from the first to the last concerto. Harmonia Mundi's sound is very clear and present, and equally balanced between the orchestra and piano.

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