This disc, covering Beethoven's first two piano concertos, is the last of a series of three Beethoven concerto discs by historical pianist Arthur Schoonderwoerd, playing an 1800 Walter fortepiano and accompanied by the small ensemble Cristofori. The ensemble basically involves one instrument per part. The other booklets contain more elaborate justifications for this procedure, but here the only evidence given involves the cover pages of the original publications of the concertos, which refer to the instruments in the singular. This is hardly reliable, for the publisher's aim was sales, not musicological accuracy, and this release, like the other two, shows only that the music was sometimes performed this way, not that such performances were ideal or desirable. All this said, the performances here are intriguing, and they're less radical than some of Schoonderwoerd's other albums of 19th century music. The small orchestra puts the emphasis not only on the fortepiano but on the timpani. The piano itself is a fine example, and Schoonderwoerd brings out its many colors in the development sections of the opening movements of the two concertos. These put the listener in the place of those who first heard Beethoven as a young phenomenon, and whether or not you accept the premise of this recording, you may find that Schoonderwoerd gets to the virtuoso aspect of these works in a way that other performances do not. Booklet notes, which as usual with the Alpha label include an art-historical essay by Dénis Grenier, are in English and French.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Concerto pour pianoforte en No. 1, Op. 15|
|Concerto pour pianoforte en No. 2, Op. 19|