Beethoven: Triple Concerto; Piano Concerto No 0. © 2021 Brilliant Classics

CD Spotlight

A Welcome Addition

Two Beethoven concertos, heard by GERALD FENECH

'Three gifted soloists ... playing, with one heart and one soul, music that is sublime, graceful and thoroughly captivating.'


This hugely interesting issue pairs a not so often performed piece with an almost forgotten one. The Triple Concerto, Op 56, for piano, violin, cello and orchestra was unique in the musical literature, and Beethoven knew this. Indeed, he convincingly wrote to his publisher that the combination of a piano trio with an orchestra was entirely new.

But the innovations go beyond the combination of concertante instruments, extending as well to the importance accorded the orchestra, elevated to the status of an equal symphonic protagonist alongside the three solo parts alone, in all possible pairings and as a threesome. This was a complete novelty, and when the work was first performed in Vienna in May 1804, the audience were taken by surprise and many remained perplexed. You cannot blame them; the idea of solo instruments enjoying complete freedom, either following each other's entries, playing together, or having an intimate private dialogue with the orchestra, was up till then unthinkable. Maybe this was the reason why this concerto was not performed a second time during Beethoven's lifetime?

Listen — Beethoven: Allegro (Triple Concerto)
(track 1, 7:00-8:00) ℗ 2021 Brilliant Classics :

The Piano Concerto No 0 is a work rarely performed, and remains practically unknown among music lovers. Written in 1784 when the composer was only fourteen, it comes down to us as an unsigned thirty-two-page manuscript with the author's corrections. Still, the solo piano part and the piano reduction of the orchestra parts are completely preserved, but the orchestral score has been lost. This manuscript was discovered in 1890 in the archives of the Artaria Foundation and was transferred to the Berlin State Library. It was published that same year, and later, researcher Willy Hess restored the orchestral parts on the basis of the preserved material. The first performance of this accurate and careful work was given in 1934, and the complete reconstruction was performed in 1968 at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Listen — Beethoven: Allegro (Piano Concerto No 0)
(track 4, 3:44-4:35) ℗ 2021 Brilliant Classics :

Despite being one of Beethoven's most youthful compositions, and written in the style of mainly Haydn and Mozart, it already contains a number of original features characteristic of the composer's future works. Still, the piece is steeped in youthful enthusiasm and optimism. In this recording, in the absence of original cadenzas, which are not extant, Ekaterina Litvintseva created her own, guided by her knowledge, performing experience and the concerto's style.

Listen — Beethoven: Allegro (Piano Concerto No 0)
(track 4, 8:10-9:04) ℗ 2021 Brilliant Classics :

This is music that is mostly wonderful and relaxed, and the melodic genius of the composer is displayed with abundance.

I have to admit that the third movement from the Triple Concerto, 'Rondo alla Polacca', always transports me into the realms of unearthly bliss. Three gifted soloists, Lusiné Harutyunyan, Benedict Kloeckner and Ekaterina Litvintseva, playing, with one heart and one soul, music that is sublime, graceful and thoroughly captivating.

Listen — Beethoven: Rondo alla Polacca (Triple Concerto)
(track 3, 11:45-12:45) ℗ 2021 Brilliant Classics :

Conductor Vahan Mardirossian and the Würtemburgische Philharmonie Reutlingen give full-blooded support in this welcome addition to the Beethoven discography in fine sound and presentation.

Copyright © 20 November 2021 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta







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