Pastourelle (Air de Ballet) Edward Elgar
4 October 2012, 10:51
Two triumphant piano concertos, straddling the Classical and Romantic periods. Grandeur, excitement, and beauty from Beethoven and his contemporary, Kuhlau. Album of the Week, 1 October 2012.
If you like Mozart's symphonies, some of the cheeky rushing strings have a distinctly 'Mozartean' flavour - but as soon as the piano comes in, played by Marianna Shirinyan, it's Beethoven's mischievous musical personality shining through. As the lively tunes twist and turn, Beethoven plays with our expectations and adds an element of surprise to the music: it's impossible to know what's coming next! But it's not all relentless orchestral grandeur; the serene second movement is in E flat major and features delicate conversation between piano and orchestra.
Danish composer, Friedrich Kuhlau, clearly admired his Viennese contemporary, Beethoven - they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and there are certainly a fair few similarities between the two composers' concertos. Kuhlau was known for his operas, and the lively final movement combines the best of classical piano music with a lighthearted comic opera.
Copenhagen Phil recently showed their zany side with their classical flash mob appearances in Copenhagen's Central Station. This album of piano concertos, while not quite as surprising as an impromptu public performance, will certainly put a smile on your face.