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BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano Concerto No. 1 / KUHLAU, F.: Piano Concerto (Shirinyan, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Francis, Gupta)

BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano Concerto No. 1 / KUHLAU, F.: Piano Concerto (Shirinyan, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Francis, Gupta)

The Classical Shop
release date: December 2012

Originally recorded in 2012

Artists:

Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra


Gupta, Rolf


Francis, Michael


Rolf Gupta

Soloist

Michael Francis

Soloist

Marianna Shirinyan

Soloist

Venue:

Concert Hall of the Academy, Copenhagen, Denmark



Record Label
Orchid Classics

Genre:

Orchestral & Concertos


Classical

Total Time - 67:28
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BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano Concerto No. 1 / KUHLAU, F.: Piano Concerto (Shirinyan, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Francis, Gupta)

     
Select Complete Single Disc for
     
 

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

 

Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15

 
1 I. Allegro con brio 16:54
 Michael Francis Soloist
 Francis, Michael
     
2 II. Largo 10:15
 Marianna Shirinyan Soloist
 Francis, Michael
     
3 III. Rondo: Allegro scherzando 9:01
 Michael Francis Soloist
 Francis, Michael
     
 

FRIEDRICH KUHLAU

 

Piano Concerto in C major, Op. 7

 
4 I. Allegro 15:37
 Rolf Gupta Soloist
 Gupta, Rolf
     
5 II. Adagio 7:44
 Marianna Shirinyan Soloist
 Gupta, Rolf
     
6 III. Rondo: Allegro 7:57
 Rolf Gupta Soloist
 Gupta, Rolf


TWO CONCERTOS IN THE SAME KEY
 
Friedrich Kuhlau was already composing when he was just 15 years old, and was thoroughly trained in the north German tradition, where the spirit of Bach and Telemann was still alive and well. But Kuhlau dreamed of modern music, and the great Beethoven became his hero. His C major piano concerto was vigorously inspired by Beethoven’s first piano concerto. Scores for both works were in his luggage when in 1810 Kuhlau fled to Denmark in order to escape military service in Napoleon’s Army.
 
Eight years earlier, Beethoven had travelled to Vienna. He was now a free artist – or at any rate more free than most – and this can be heard in his C major piano concerto, which is practically a symphony with piano. But one mustn’t be fooled by the score, for Beethoven the pianist played a good deal more than Beethoven the composer wrote down.
 
Johann Wenzel Thomaschek heard Beethoven perform the piece in Prague: "In 1798, while I was studying law, this giant gave a well-attended concert. His impeccable playing, and especially his bold improvisations shook me deep in my soul. I was not able to touch my piano for several days."
 
In Copenhagen Kuhlau became associated with the Royal Court and the Royal Theatre, where he played his own C major piano concerto in January 1811. The piece is constructed much like Beethoven’s, and like Beethoven, Kuhlau also impressed with his own improvisations at the piano. Our soloist on this recording, Marianna Shirinyan, also takes advantage of this opportunity: "I thought, why shouldn’t I also figure something out and play it, like other pianists have done before me? One can do that with Kuhlau, but with a composer like Beethoven it is much more difficult. He provides suggestions for the cadenzas in his own piano concertos, and it is difficult to improve upon them!"
 
In fact the two composers had a good deal in common. They both came from more or less normal German families of musicians. Beethoven was deaf, while Kuhlau was blind, if only in one eye. Both were confident in themselves and resistant to authority. "I will not play for such a pig," said Beethoven of one Count Palfy who had dared to speak during one of his piano pieces. "I would rather have a schnapps," said Kuhlau, after he had played for the royal family and been offered a cup of tea. The two composers had heard stories about one another for years when finally, in 1825, they met outside of Vienna.
 
In Beethoven’s notebooks we learn that the pair wrote witty songs, told jokes, and discussed musical life. "I don’t even know what I wrote yesterday," confesses Beethoven on the 3rd September. "I must admit that the champagne had gone to my head."
 
Marianna Shirinyan relates that for her, the two concerti are at once closely related and completely different, quite like the two composers themselves. "The thought touches me," she continues. "Kuhlau has used the skeleton of Beethoven’s concerto, but it is more inspiration than theft, because he fills it with a completely different content. He is on the way to romantic music."
 
"Beethoven’s concerto is in places really massive. Kuhlau’s is more transparent and light, but it should not be taken lightly. Beethoven’s orchestra sounds of military and revolution, and the last movement is almost like a coarse joke. Kuhlau’s finale, on the other hand, is quite charming."
 
But now these two friends meet once again, not in a pub this time but on a compact disc, where they yet again have the chance to display their talents. When they met in person the two composers grappled with more earthly matters than works for piano in C major. The festivities reached a high point when the famous Schuppanzigh Quartet turned up to play Beethoven’s opus 132 – a masterpiece that eventually transformed the entire concept of chamber music. But Beethoven’s piano-playing colleague hadn’t much room for that sort of insight on that day in 1825. In the notebooks we read that Mr. Kuhlau was unfortunately compelled to retire to his chambers with a hangover.
 
© Claus Johansen, 2012

"...She [Marianna Shirinyan] is an engaging and thoughtful artist. Her tone is lovely and beautifully modulated ...From the start of the Beethoven concerto, one is aware of the brilliant framework conductor Michael Francis provides the pianist. His accompaniment is crisp and passionate, with pungent contributions from the brass and timpani, and especially brilliant rhythmic articulation... This must be one of the best Beethoven  Firsts of the digital era... It [Kuhlau’s piano concerto] is a well constructed work, pleasant and agreeable ... Shirinyan plays it with elegance, repose, delicate shadings, and charm... I found myself listening to the Kuhlau as often as to the Beethoven. The sound engineering is both concertos is excellent, clear, balanced and unfussy... Her [Shirinyan] Beethoven and Kuhlau disc is a keeper."
 
Dave Saemann - Fanfare - March/April 2013



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