Beethoven: Piano Concertos – No 1 in C major, Op 15; No 2 in B flat major, Op 19

Reviewed on Mon 08 May, 2017

Both concertos begin with a slightly dull and plodding first movement, but then move on to a heartfelt second, the slow movements elevated by Sudbin’s expressive and agile technique.

Yevgeny Sudbin and Osmo Vänskä complete their traversal of the Beethoven piano concertos with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, following previous instalments with the more substantial Minnesota Orchestra. The smaller ensemble lends an air of period performance, which is emphasised by the minimal vibrato and generally light and open textures. Sudbin is just as light of texture, but his readings are more expressive and Romantic. It is a strange balance, lacking interpretive focus, but there are many moments of great beauty, and the performing standards are excellent. Both concertos begin with a slightly dull and plodding first movement, but then move on to a heartfelt second, the slow movements elevated by Sudbin’s expressive and agile technique. The light textures afford the finales humour and grace, although more orchestral weight would be welcome. SACD audio is up to the label’s usual high standards, with the balance between piano and orchestra particularly well judged.
–Gavin Dixon