Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1, 3

Evgeny Kissin / Colin Davis / London Symphony Orchestra

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Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1, 3 Review

by James Leonard

Evgeny Kissin's recording of Beethoven's First and Third piano concertos is the best of his three discs devoted to the composer's five concertos. While Kissin is very fine in the major key concertos, he really comes into his own in the Third Concerto in C minor, because he seems more at home in minor-keyed music, and simply brings much more to this work. Kissin clearly reveals the C minor Concerto's stormy drama, with grander gestures and bigger climaxes than are often encountered in this piece. Some listeners may find this to be more than Beethoven's frankly Mozartian concerto can bear, but for others, this approach may be exactly what the music needs. Opinion may be less divided on Kissin's reading of Beethoven's First Concerto in C major. With his stupendous technique and crystalline tone, Kissin can play the heck out of the piece, but he seems less involved in his performance of the cheerful work, much as he had in the Second, Fourth, and Fifth concertos. Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra provide model accompaniments, and EMI's digital sound is warm and colorful, but not quite as clear as it might be.

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