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The combination of Schumann and Grieg’s A minor piano concertos is favoured by many pianists on disc. Classic FM reflects on some of the best recordings and pick one for you to add to your essential CD collection.
For your collection Classic FM brings you a minor concerto or two, at least in key at any rate, because the Schumann and Greig piano concertos are without doubt two of the most major and popular piano concertos ever written. It was Clara Schumann who, in 1845, gave the first performance of her husband’s work at a concert in Dresden. She also performed it in Leipzig when in the audience was non other than a young Edvard Greig, who was studying in Leipzig at the time. He was undeniably inspired by the beauty and romanticism of Schumann’s piano concerto.
Many top pianists have recorded this coupling and there are some fine vintage versions available, but our main contenders all come from the stereo era. Radu Lupu, supported by the LSO under André Previn, delivers a typically thoughtful and sensitive account, as does Murray Perahia with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Colin Davis. Perahia’s precision and ravishing tone will undoubtedly satisfy many. Davis also directs the BBC Symphony Orchestra in another recording, this one with Stephen Kovacevich in the hot seat – intense and clear, this certainly stands up well.
Of the younger generation Lars Vogt, accompanied by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle, produces lyrical and energetic readings of both concertos. The opening of the Schumann is arguably the fastest on record, but it may not appeal to everyone. The Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes really gets to the heart of his fellow countryman’s work. The Grieg is full of passion, atmosphere and commitment, as is the earlier concerto. Both receive wonderful support from the Berlin Philharmonic under Maris Jansons, making this exciting 2002 recording a real winner.