Heretofore unheard: a sensitive, thoughtful reading of Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4

Piano Concerto No. 4 In G Major, Op. 58: I. Allegro Moderato

by Elisabeth Westenholz – on the album “Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 4”

The first movement of B’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major came up in Forgotify, seeming to suggest that a fellow-travelling classics lover had listened to all three movements of Concerto No. 2 (Can I do any less with No. 4? I’ll get back to my morning folk and Celtic harp mix later.)

Danish pianist Westenholz is well known in European chamber circles and on the concert festival scene. She’s received awards and grants including Music Critics price, Tagea Brandt travel grant, Gladsaxe Music Prize and the Swedish Gramophone Award. She’s accompanied here by the Collegium Musicum, under the direction of Michael Schønwandt

The recording is not one of those glitzy, flashy sounding, let’s wade into the orchestra with a bunch of mics, movie-soundtrack sounding things; rather it captures the piano from a respectful distance with the orchestra a bit more distant, but nicely balanced against the piano.

The piece requires both meticulous rhythmic precision as well as dynamic and rhythmic sensitivity. Ms Westenholz delivers on both counts, though she seems to pull perhaps just slightly short of the broad and powerful dynamic strokes in the crescendi some pianists might bring.

Or maybe she was saving herself for  the rest of the piece — Concerto No. 4 is about 36 minutes long. At any rate, it is a fine performance, sensitively rendered, accompanied by an excellent European orchestra under a conductor who knows how to frame the piano while letting Beethoven’s stormy love affair with the orchestra seethe beneath.