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Aimard's Beethoven Triple Concerto 'CD of the Week' in <i>The Daily Telegraph</i>

Aimard's Beethoven Triple Concerto 'CD of the Week' in The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph, 29th January 2005 Beethoven: Triple Concerto; Choral Fantasy; Rondo in B flat Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Thomas Zehetmair (violin), Clemens Hagen (cello), Arnold Schoenberg Choir, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Warner Classics 2564 60602-2) This Cinderella among Beethoven's concertos needs three sensitive chamber musicians rather than star soloists with competing egos. Hagen, Zehetmair and Aimard yield to none in imagination and technical brilliance, and relish their bouts of truculent bravura. But their playing is even more memorable for its delicacy, lyricism and selfless give-and-take. With Harnoncourt and the superb COE emphasising the martial swagger of the tuttis, this performance heightens Beethoven's contrasts between the public and personal, as the soloists draw new shades of reflective poetry from the bold, plain orchestral themes. On his own, Aimard combines virtuoso panache with a limpid touch in the rarely heard Choral Fantasy. In the brooding piano introduction - about as close as we will ever get to a Beethoven improvisation - he conjures some wonderful misty sonorities. And the variations, culminating in the jubilant choral finale, are as zestfully characterised as you will ever hear. The other work is even rarer: the rondo Beethoven wrote for his B flat Piano Concerto, and then jettisoned. This is the Bonn firebrand at his most charmingly Mozartian. And with his trademark sparkling clarity of articulation, Aimard catches all its dancing grace and wit. Richard Wigmore