Mikhail Pletnev traverses the Beethoven Piano Concertos

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Lance
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Mikhail Pletnev traverses the Beethoven Piano Concertos

Post by Lance » Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:55 pm

Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1 and 3
Mikhail Pletnev, piano
Russian National Orchestra
Christian Gansch, conductor
[Live Recordings]
DGG, 477.6415, 67:52, DDD


This is most decidedly ANOTHER traversal of Beethoven's mighty piano concertos that I look forward to with Russian pianist Mikhail Pletnev. You might ask yourself "who needs another edition of Beethoven's piano concertos?" It's because of this pianist that I will acquire them all. He is one of the most brilliant pianists to come out of Russia since the days of Gilels and Richter. An impeccable technique, and marvelous understanding of the music puts him in another class. The fact that he has proven himself a conductor of considerable merit adds even more reason to consider all these issues.

Pletnev has recorded all five piano concertos LIVE with the Russian National Orchestra under the direction of Christian Gansch. Concertos 2 and 4 will be issued in the fall of 2007, and No. 5 will be released in the spring of 2008. Pletnev himself conducts all nine of Beethoven's symphonies, which will be seen in the fall of 2007.

One other interesting note: Pletnev requested that a Blüthner concert grand piano be used for these concertos (Nos. 1 and 3; I'm not sure about the other performances yet). Normally, I believe, he is a Steinway artist. I've heard more Blüthner pianos of late on recordings; perhaps they are making a comeback from their early glorious days.
Last edited by Lance on Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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ch1525
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Re: Mikhail Pletnev traverses the Beethoven Piano Concertos

Post by ch1525 » Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:25 am

Ever since I saw Pletnev's performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.2 on DVD with the Berlin Philharmonic and Claudio Abbado conducting, I have been a big fan of his. I'll definitely be excited to add some more Pletnev to my collection.
Lance wrote:Pletnev himself conducts all nine of Beethoven's symphonies, which will be seen in the fall of 2007.
Now that I am really looking forward to! Will this be with the Russian National Orchestra as well?

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Re: Mikhail Pletnev traverses the Beethoven Piano Concertos

Post by Lance » Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:38 am

ch1525 wrote:Ever since I saw Pletnev's performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.2 on DVD with the Berlin Philharmonic and Claudio Abbado conducting, I have been a big fan of his. I'll definitely be excited to add some more Pletnev to my collection.
Lance wrote:Pletnev himself conducts all nine of Beethoven's symphonies, which will be seen in the fall of 2007.
Now that I am really looking forward to! Will this be with the Russian National Orchestra as well?
Yes, everything is with the Russian National Orchestra in these Beethoven releases.
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pizza
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Post by pizza » Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:57 am

Pletnev is one of the few pianists -- among them being Radu Lupu and Ivan Moravec -- whose recordings I would buy sight unseen, or rather sound unheard!

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Post by PJME » Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:37 am

Sorry to disrupt the praise :

Heard Pletnev's Beethoven first yesterday on the radio ....Beethoven?
Pletnev is a very talented pianist, but this is the weirdest version of Beethoven ever! Be prepared!
I found it very strange . Of course, Pletnev will call it a "personal interpretation" - I heard tasteless & arrogant playing, unworthy of such an artist.

Peter

PS : to balance out my remarks, this comment from Amazon....:

Listening to the thousand-and-one tinkerings that Mikhail Pletnev makes in the simple Concerto #1 of Beethoven, I was reminded that this quirky artist feels free to embellish any composer, including Beethoven. You find this either irritatingly intrusive or delightfully imaginative. There are days when I can't decide which. Here the overall results are undeniably appealing, however. We know that Beethoven improvised freely at the keyboard, and althoug Pletnev doesn't add new notes, he improvises the feeling of the music, tending toward a romantic sprightliness. He makes phrases erupt, then whisper. He races around corners where other pianists don't realize that corners exist.

It's helpful that most of these expressive turns are on the micro scale.( ?????) You won't hear gross distortions (?????), and Pletnev's rubato isn't totally extreme (it comes close, though) ( it surely does!!!!). The Concerto #3 is considered bigger and more romantic than the First, an entry into mature Beethoven, but Pletnev is light and playful in both works. I don't know his accompanist, conductor Christian Gansch, but he's a find. He gets very lovely, imaginative playing from the Russian National Orch., and DG's sound is excellent.

It all adds up to a novel, highly enjoyable version of two familiar works that Pletnev hears in unfamiliar ways.( that is correct!)

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Post by pizza » Thu Mar 22, 2007 7:15 am

The fact that he brings unusual and challenging insights to standard fare is precisely what piques my interest in his playing. Never a dull moment with Pletnev.

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Post by PJME » Thu Mar 22, 2007 7:39 am

Not to my ears, I'm afraid .
What I've heard of Pletnev untill now was absolutely exiting and special.
In this Beethovenconcerto (I've only heard nr 1) he tries too hard to be different...Irritating & frankly ugly.
But then, it's only my opinion.

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Post by Lance » Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:08 am

From all outword appearances, particularly his photographs, rarely does one see Pletnev wearing a smile. He seems to be a very serious pianist whose virtuosity is not worn on his sleeve. Perhaps we might perceive him the "Russian Glenn Gould." In other words, why produce a musical performance that's just like everyone else's? I rather like that in an artist as long as it doesn't drift too far from the composer's original intentions.
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Post by Lance » Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:21 pm

Well, I've had a chance to listen to this disc—both concertos—and the First Concerto caught my ears immediately. It's definitely an unconventional reading. The opening orchestral introduction to the First Concerto goes along at a fairly standard pace. When the piano makes its entrance in the first movement, Pletnev slows things down some and takes his time, eventually picking up the speed somewhat. It's obvious the conductor has his work cut out for him, but this was apparently very well rehearsed and he knew what to expect. Christian Gansch will, too, find a new following for his exceptional conductorial work. This, I must admit, was a strange, albeit wonderful and somewhat exciting performance of the work, decidedly Pletnev's own special interpretation. The Third Concerto came off more conventionally. Beethoven's cadenzas were used in both first movements. The pianist throws in unexpected accents throughout the work here and there.

The use of a Blüthner concert grand piano has a substantially different sound that the best German or American Steinways of today. The bass, particularly, has that thinner (still resonant, and not as powerful) sound that is associated with most German pianos (especially the Bechstein), other than Steinway. The use of this piano probably moves us a bit closer to the kind of piano sound one would have heard in Europe in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, and more to Beethoven's sound. The mid-range and treble has a clear, sweet sound. This is one of the better new Blüthner concert grands I've heard on recording of late.

The live recording quality is excellent, as are the balances. In the First Concerto, the winds seem to have a bit more prominence (the clarinets really come forth) than one might expect.

The performances were recorded live at the Beethovenhalle in Bonn, Germany on September 2, 2006. The Emile Berliner Studios recorded, edited and mastered these performances. They did a basically fine job here.

Still, recommended performances as long as you have Schnabel's and Fleisher's recordings in your collection as well!
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Beethoven Piano Concerti

Post by Hondo » Sun Mar 25, 2007 12:25 pm

This discussion about the release of Pletnev's first installment of Beethoven's Piano Concerti motivated me to ask forum members about their opinion of the Harnoncourt/Aimard set released in 2003. I bought the set unheard because of the very positive reviews by several music magazines, as well as the New York Times. Harnoncourt's performances of the Beethoven symphonies are my favorite modern versions, and I have been very impressed with Aimard's performances of contemporary piano works. I thought this would be a very powerful combination which would result in new insights about the works.

What a disappointment! The performances turned-out to be flat, uninteresting and uninspiring. While the recordings do have a few interpretational insights, overall the set was not worth the money. It certainly will not replace my two favorite sets by Fleischer and Solomon!

Gabe

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Re: Beethoven Piano Concerti

Post by Lance » Sun Mar 25, 2007 6:42 pm

Hondo wrote:This discussion about the release of Pletnev's first installment of Beethoven's Piano Concerti motivated me to ask forum members about their opinion of the Harnoncourt/Aimard set released in 2003. I bought the set unheard because of the very positive reviews by several music magazines, as well as the New York Times. Harnoncourt's performances of the Beethoven symphonies are my favorite modern versions, and I have been very impressed with Aimard's performances of contemporary piano works. I thought this would be a very powerful combination which would result in new insights about the works.

What a disappointment! The performances turned-out to be flat, uninteresting and uninspiring. While the recordings do have a few interpretational insights, overall the set was not worth the money. It certainly will not replace my two favorite sets by Fleischer and Solomon!

Gabe
Oddly, I don't have a single one of Aimard's recordings, and he has made quite a few. The Beethoven concertos you speak of are now in a 14-disc Beethoven/Harnoncourt boxed set for around $100/USD from Tower online. Wish I could add some comments on the concerti, however, it is impossible for one person to have everything. Sorry about your disappointment with the set of five concertos you have with Aimard. You are right on, however, speaking about Fleisher and Solomon. Those are wonderful recordings to which I would add any of those by Artur Schnabel and the Rubinstein/Krips performances (of the three integral sets Rubinstein made).
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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