Barry Douglas / Camerata Ireland

Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 4

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Founded by pianist Barry Douglas to celebrate, in words, "the wealth of Irish musical talent," the Camerata Ireland is a robust, raw-toned, big-hearted chamber orchestra. On its debut disc under Douglas, the Camerata is as adept at following Douglas' direction as Douglas is at directing from the keyboard. With a strong tone and a powerful attack, plus a propulsive sense of rhythm, the group faithfully accompanies Douglas in these small-scale but still grandly romantic interpretations of Beethoven's Second and Fourth piano concertos. A grandly romantic pianist himself, Douglas delivers hugely conceived and flamboyantly executed performances. Because all the musical direction is coming from Douglas, these are inevitably highly individualistic performances with distinctively inflected phrasing and shaped structures, performances that make Beethoven sound less like the post-Classical successor of Mozart than the early Romantic contemporary of Weber and Hummel. While these should not be the only performances of Beethoven's Second and Fourth piano concertos one hears, they are nevertheless interesting additions to the discography. Satrinio's recording made in Dublin in June 2005 puts the performance 15 feet in front of the listener in an empty medium-sized hall. It is altogether uncanny.

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