Beethoven, Mozart, Harbison

Beethoven, Mozart, Harbison

by David Deveau


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The U.S.-based Steinway & Sons attempts to re-create the pianism and the piano environment of an earlier era, and they do well here to examine the large repertory of "concerti a quattro": piano concertos in arrangements for string quartet and orchestra. To hear Mozart's concertos played this way, especially the earlier ones with their lack of independent wind parts, is not unusual. But pianist David Deveau, the Borromeo String Quartet, and a few added musicians here unearth something rarer: a quartet version of the Beethoven "Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58." This spacious work might seem an impossible order for these forces, but the arrangement used stems from Beethoven's own world: Beethoven's patron, Prince Lobkowitz, wanted a presale hearing of the concerto, and Beethoven obliged with the present arrangement. There is debate over whether Beethoven composed the arrangement himself or delegated it, but it is artfully done regardless of the author: not a straight transcription but with string effects, often involving an added viola, that suggest the instrumentation of the full version. Sample the 20-minute first movement, which never becomes texturally monotonous despite the risk. The Mozart "Piano Concerto No. 14 in E flat major, K. 449," has the same strengths. Both concertos feature new cadenzas by John Harbison, who is represented by a short solo piano piece of his own. That and the solo piano Mozart "Fantasia in C minor, K. 396," seem superfluous to the program, and Deveau's decision to add a bass to his arrangements, especially in the case of the rarely heard Beethoven, is debatable. But his chamber-sized interpretations, on a modern Steinway, are beautifully controlled, and the whole makes an elegant and lively impression even if you disagree in some details. Recommended, and essential for those interested in Beethoven reception.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/21/2018
Label: Steinway & Sons
UPC: 0034062300990
catalogNumber: 30099
Rank: 256518


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