Artur Pizarro / Charles Mackerras / Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4 & 5

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Though pianist Artur Pizarro's performances of the solo parts in Beethoven's Third, Fourth, and Fifth piano concertos are consistently superlative, it's not too much to say that the real draw here is not the soloist but the accompanists. Because as fine as Pizarro's virtuoso playing is, Charles Mackerras and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra turn in performances of such force, sensitivity, and balance that they may well be the finest accompaniments for these concertos ever recorded. Pizarro is a strong and supple soloist whose dramatic account on the Third Concerto, lyrical reading of the Fourth Concerto, and imperious elucidation of the Fifth Concerto show his firm grasp of the music's escalating rhetoric. But Mackerras, a seasoned and canny conductor, not only supports Pizarro unstintingly, but finds the orchestral accompaniments' depths and beauties by highlighting a solo cello in the Fourth's Finale, weaving wind lines in the Third's Largo and blending string sonorities in the Fifth's Adagio, thereby creating interpretations of ineffable rightness and profundity. Captured in amazingly life-like sound by Linn, these performances will be compulsory listening for anyone who appreciates the fine art of accompaniment.

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