Beethoven: Piano Concertos No. 2 & No. 5 "Emperor"by John O'Conor
The name of Irish pianist John O'Conor hasn't achieved household familiarity, and Andreas Delfs is known to U.S. audiences as the conductor of the regionally heard Milwaukee Symphony. Marquee names aren't necessary for distinctive Beethoven, however, and the two concerto performances here are indeed distinctive. They might not have stood out 40 or 50 years ago, when studious Middle Europeans like Wilhelm Kempff (with whom O'Conor studied) and Walter Gieseking ruled the classical sales charts, but later Ashkhenazian muscle became the order of the day. If you are looking for a big, glittering peroration at the beginning of the "Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73" ("Emperor"), this is not the performance for you; O'Conor tends instead to get inside the details of the opening flourish, giving it a somewhat fantasy-like effect, rather than pounding it out. His tempos are generally on the brisk side, and he accents unusual details by pushing them slightly. With all these caveats borne in mind, the listener will find unusually detailed, accomplished, and challenging Beethoven performances here. The early "Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19," runs against type and does so successfully; O'Conor focuses on cross rhythms in the main theme of the finale, diminishing its dancelike character but bringing out rhythms that turn out to appear all through the movement. His version of the work is unconventional but imbues it with a full quota of the young Beethoven's edginess. The finale of the "Emperor" almost willfully disregards the triple meter swing of the music but keeps the listener alert with phrasing that builds carefully toward the cadences and fully follows through them. Delfs works with O'Conor as a full partner, and the London Symphony Orchestra sounds great in Telarc's spacious engineering. For those who loved the Germanic Classicist Beethoven of the middle of the last century, here's a chance to experience it in full sonic color.
- Release Date:
- Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 - Ludwig van Beethoven - Anilda Carrasquillo - Andreas Delfs - London Symphony Orchestra - John O'Conor - John Ryan
- Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major ("Emperor"), Op. 73 - Ludwig van Beethoven - Anilda Carrasquillo - Andreas Delfs - London Symphony Orchestra - John O'Conor - John Ryan
Performance CreditsJohn O'Conor Primary Artist
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