The Swedish label BIS Records has released a new Minnesota Orchestra recording featuring Beethoven’s intensely dramatic Third Piano Concerto, paired with Mozart’s dark, passionate and poetic Piano Concerto No. 24—a work greatly admired by Beethoven.
Osmo Vänskä conducts, while acclaimed Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin is featured at the keyboard.
The disc, which follows the same collaborators’ earlier album of Beethoven’s Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos, is available beginning on Thursday, March 27, through the Orchestra’s website at minnesotaorchestra.org. It will also be available in stores and as a download on major internet music sites.
Mr. Vänskä, Mr. Sudbin and the Orchestra recorded the concertos at Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall in sessions during June 2011 and May and June 2012.
The BIS team, led by producer Robert Suff, recorded the album as a Super Audio CD (SACD), using surround sound recording technology to reproduce the sound of the concert hall as faithfully as possible. BIS Hybrid SACDs are playable on all standard CD players.
The Minnesota Orchestra, founded in 1903 as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, issued its first recording in 1924 and has since recorded more than 450 works. In January 2014 the Orchestra won its first-ever Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance for a BIS recording of Sibelius’ First and Fourth Symphonies, with Mr. Vänskä conducting. Two additional recordings under Mr. Vänskä’s direction, both produced by BIS, also earned Grammy nominations in the Best Orchestral Performance category: a 2007 album of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, performed with four vocal soloists and the Minnesota Chorale; and a disc of Sibelius’ Second and Fifth Symphonies, released in 2012. Other recent recordings include a CD of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony; Tchaikovsky piano concertos with Stephen Hough; the oratorio To Be Certain of the Dawn, composed by Stephen Paulus with libretto by Michael Dennis Browne; and a full cycle of Beethoven symphonies. This new album contains the Minnesota Orchestra’s first recording of a Mozart work since 1978, when the ensemble recorded two Mozart concertos with pianist Walter Klien.
Further information about the Orchestra’s acclaimed recordings on the BIS Records label can also be found on the BIS website, www.bis.se.
Concertos linked in spirit and C-minor key
Mozart was among the first great masters of the piano concerto form, and his 27 concertos for the instrument showcased his brilliant talents as both composer and performer, while serving as models for many composers who followed. The Concerto No. 24 is one of only two piano concertos Mozart wrote in a minor key, making it an uncommonly forceful and tragic work. It also stands out in its call for orchestral forces, requiring the largest orchestra of any Mozart concerto, as well as in its tightly integrated partnership between soloist and orchestra. Writer Robert Markow notes: “…It is replete with passionate outbursts, startling contrasts, chromaticism, rich orchestration, overt emotional fervor and portrayal of the darker aspects of existence.” The first and third movements call for solo cadenzas, of which Mozart left no record; in this album, Yevgeny Sudbin performs his own original cadenzas.
Beethoven’s five piano concertos broke further ground in the form and affirmed the composer’s reputation as early Romanticism’s pre-eminent composer for the piano. His Third Concerto harkens to Mozart’s 24th in the choice of key signature—C minor—and in its spirit of great drama, as well as the close partnership between soloist and ensemble. Beethoven particularly admired that Mozart concerto, proclaiming after hearing it: “Ah…we shall never be able to do anything like that.” But, as musicologist Michael Steinberg writes: “…doing ‘anything like that’ was not really his agenda anyway; he had business of his own to attend to, and that he did superbly.” The relentless energy of the first movement is followed by a rapt Largo, which begins in the piano and soon becomes veiled in the rich sonority of muted strings. The sprightly finale completes the work’s journey from C minor to C major—the same path followed in Beethoven’s famous Fifth Symphony.
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 3 & MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 24 (BIS-SACD-1978)
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Yevgeny Sudbin, piano
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 24
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 3
Album available beginning Thursday, March 27, at minnesotaorchestra.org.
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