Top positive review
44 people found this helpful
An unsurpassable recording with energy, youth and poetry
on 17 June 2007
I must admit I was sceptical at first when I heard that Andsnes was releasing this new CD of the Grieg and Schumann concertos. As much as I feared that this might be a run-of-the-mill performance, I found I was very well pleased with the result. Although I own the Lupu CD of these kindred souls of piano concertos (and found them perfectly balanced), I soon found that this Andsnes version runs rings around all the other versions I have heard so far. No matter what other people say, Andsnes is a superb pianist who gives well-rounded and balanced accounts of these two concertos, backed by punchy accompaniment from Jansons and the Berliners, and a sumptuous EMI recording that lacks a little in detail and clarity.
The Grieg concerto starts out with a punchy first movement, energetic and poetic, as if Andsnes and Jansons are setting sparks off at each other. Andsnes' opening flourish is firm and weighty, but he counterbalances it with a due sense of poetry in the quieter sections of the movement. The slow movement is meditative but it never drags the concerto, and Andsnes, true to his Norweigan roots, really relishes the dance-like finale. In the secondary theme of the finale he is given excellent support by the winds, especially the flautist, in evoking the Norweigan fjords that might have inspired this music. The Schumann is a beautifully renderred version, and Andsnes taps more into his poetic gifts here. One hears a continuous forward momentum in this work that I tend to find sorely lacking in other recordings. Andsnes conveys a strength and a vulnerability crucial in this piece, and the first movement really stands out. The Intermezzo ably bridges the first movement and the finale, and one can hear a joie de vivre here.
In short, I would recommend this disc to every lover of classical music and especially piano music, no matter how many other versions of these concertos you have. I think that even though I disagree with most music critics, this was well-deserving of the Rosette and the Gramophone Editor's Choice that it garnered.