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G2: Film & Music: Reviews: Beethoven: Piano Concertos 3 & 4 Pires/Swedish Radio Symphony/Harding ONYX 3/5

August 8, 2014

Tim Ashley

The only sleevenote for Maria Joao Pires'sBeethoven album is an essay by Pires herself, in which she meditates on "music's essential power to bring out a primal simplicity, which is present deep inside each one of us, waiting to respond when summoned". I'm not convinced, I'm afraid, that this disc is likely to elicit the kind of response she envisages. The nuanced intimacy of her playing, which makes Beethoven's small-scale Second Concerto her calling card in concert, isn't quite enough when it comes to the bigger Third and Fourth, which need grandeur as well as subtlety if they're to have their full impact. Much of this is extremely beautiful, and there are striking insights: the way Pires edges the slow movement of the Third towards the high Romanticism of a Chopin nocturne, for instance, is telling. But it's all too low-key for my taste. Conductor Daniel Harding, sympathetic to her approach in the Third Concerto, is a bit stolid, uncharacteristically in the Fourth.

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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