Two major artists create Beethoven magic, here.
Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires has long been a star on the international circuit beloved by music lovers and pianophiles who like their artists to walk softly but carry a big stick. No star aura, just deep musicianship. Talking of big sticks, England’s second baton, after Sir Simon, Daniel Harding has just scored big with the Orchestre de Paris and takes over in 2016. Harding’s one to watch and grows in stature every year. And certainly a long way from the years when he was labelled ‘Baby Rattle’. In fact when the next Berlin Phil vote comes around in years to come, I would imagine he’d be a front runner.
The two musicians, accompanied by the sterling Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (Harding is the MD) spin Beethoven’s immortal works with a seriousness and gravitas that captured my attention immediately. From the hushed opening of both concertos, to the depth of the sublime slow movements to the fantasy of the finales, Pires and Harding are in perfect step. And the tone with which Pires plays is utterly beautiful.
Through the notes, the listener can hear the respectful collaboration as if at a live performance. Truly satisfying Beethoven. And worth your investment.
The Onyx recording is warm and detailed with plenty of power and bass energy. The piano is expertly recorded. Exactly what you would expect from a professional team recording in one of the great halls, Stockholm’s Berwaldhalle.
Beethoven: Piano Concertos 3 & 4
Maria João Pires, piano
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Daniel Harding
Onyx 4125 [71:31]