The Piano Concerto #4 of Ludwig van Beethoven is the absolute favorite piece of music of countless numbers of musicians and music lovers. And much has been written in the form of analysis and commentary to understand why this masterpiece gained this position among so many people.
For me, the following comes to mind:
1. Originality: Most other concerti of the time, including many loved pieces by such giants as Mozart and Haydn, begin with an orchestral introduction. In this concerto, the piano starts right off, without an introduction. And at once, Beethoven sets the serious, spiritual mood for the entire composition.
2. The second movement is like an Opera recitative in its dialog between the piano soloist and the orchestra. And what a dialog it is! The listener may supply his own words, or just hear the dialog as an abstract conversation. Again, as in the opening movement, a highly original approach.
3. The lyricism, and the melodic aspects of this composition require a musician who has amassed the technical, musical, and phrasing expertise to recreate the entire “story” of this concerto. There are pianists who decide that they would rather not attempt it at all, leaving this “shrine” to the piano masters who have come before…
Through the magic of audio/visual recording, here is a comparison of several pianists and the way each has decided to begin the opening notes of this concerto. Be warned that the fidelity of the older recordings is quite poor; but you still get an idea of how each artist approached this piece. If you wish, share with other readers your own personal favorite, even though it is frustrating to try to select a favorite based on a few notes, rather than hearing the entire composition. (Comment area below)
I really don’t like being limited to hearing the first 8 bars; but it’s only fair for me to say that I have two favorites:
o Aimard: I like the style and the lyricism and the seeming preparation for what I know follows these few notes.
o Gilels: Because of the precision and seeming aggressiveness of his interpretation
Now here’s the video showing 10 different pianists and their way of beginning the Beethoven Piano Concerto #4:
Now that you’ve made your selection, here, to reduce the frustration, is 10 minutes worth of Beethoven’s 4th, as performed by Claudio Arrau!
And finally here’s the young Murray Perahia playing 7 minutes of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto in G major, op.58
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Tags: piano, concerto #4, beethoven