Beethoven: Piano Concerti Nos. 1 & 2

Yuliya Gorenman

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Beethoven: Piano Concerti Nos. 1 & 2 Review

by James Manheim

Ukrainian-born American pianist Yuliya Gorenman, who teaches at American University in Washington, D.C., has issued a complete set of the five Beethoven piano concertos, plus the Triple Concerto, Op. 56. These recordings, apparently issued on her own label, were made live in concert with the Bavarian Chamber Orchestra under Philip Greenberg. Though not perfectly consistent, they're never less than interesting and fresh. The Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15, is the stronger of the pair here, with Gorenman holding together the nearly 20-minute opening movement with an impressive range of articulation gradations. She defines a space entirely distinct from that of the orchestra at the very beginning of the first movement's solo part and explores it in detail as the movement proceeds. Her tempos are on the leisurely side, and the orchestra is less able than she is when it comes to sustaining these; the middle movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 (actually the earliest of the five concertos), is overdone. But the crisp marcato notes and liquid passagework in Gorenman's playing of both concertos, with quite a different style than she offers in the later Beethoven works, are absorbing, and the virtues of live performance are very much on display here. Recommended for serious Beethoven collections.

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