Mari Kodama / Kent Nagano

Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

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Much like Mozart before him, Beethoven used a piano concerto to introduce himself to the important Viennese public. It was a tool not so much to show off his compositional prowess, but his abundant skills at the keyboard. For Beethoven, it was his B flat major Concerto (composed first but known today as Concerto No. 2) that catapulted his fame in Vienna. Written with the same elegance and refinement as Mozart and Haydn, there is still an occasional hint at an underlying brooding that is unmistakably Beethoven. Performing the B flat and C major (written three years later) concertos is pianist Mari Kodama and her husband, Kent Nagano, conducting the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Leading up to this recording, Kodama devoted a significant amount of her time in both recording studio and recital hall to Beethoven, including work on a complete set of the sonatas for Pentatone. Her playing, especially of these early concertos, leans slightly toward the weighty, overly Romantic, but this is found more often in the slower middle movements. The outer movements are executed with an abundance of vitality and joviality. Nagano does a splendid job holding the reins of the orchestra, keeping its sound focused and intense while still maintaining a subservient role to the nuance in the solo part. Analekta's sound quality is quite warm and intimate.

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