Ronald Brautigam: Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 5, Choral Fantasia

Ronald Brautigam on piano joins Andrew Parrott and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra on two great Beethoven's works

Composer: Beethoven
Repertoire: Piano Concerto No. 5; Choral Fantasia
Artists: Ronald Brautigam (pf), Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/ Andrew Parrott
Rating:  4/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: BIS (BIS-SACD-1793)

The Music No. 5 is the last of Beethoven’s piano concertos, and the grandest. Ever the innovator, Beethoven begins with flourishes on the piano, which however falls silent until it re-enters in traditional style after the orchestral introduction. The Choral Fantasia is a one-off, beginning with a piano solo and ending as a dry run for the Ninth Symphony. 

The Performance The opening of the concerto is excellent: Parrott gets appropriately spacious playing from the orchestra, while the bell-like tone of Brautigam’s instrument – a Steinway Model D – helps to prevent the music from sounding too bombastic. The solo movement is a bit of a let-down, as a relatively fast tempo makes it seem matter-of-fact, but the Rondo goes with a swing. The Fantasia is even better. Brautigam could almost be Beethoven himself improvising, and from the moment he launches the big tune everything proceeds with a pleasing inevitability. Good singing, too. 

The Verdict Not quite a top-notch account of the concerto, but well worth acquiring for the strange but stirring Fantasia. 

Want More? Brautigam and Parrott have recorded the previous concertos on BIS: Nos. 1 & 3 on SACD-1692, No. 2 on SACD-1792 and No. 4 on SACD-1693.