Author Topic: LvB PC 2020 Shootout  (Read 879 times)

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Offline Todd

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LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« on: August 31, 2020, 03:45:05 AM »












In this Beethoven year, I wanted to do a quick hit shootout of complete piano concerto cycles released this year.  Only seems fair.  Well, not really, I kinda cheated and decided to include Oliver Schnyder's cycle since 1.) it's only a few years old, 2.) it has a kick-ass sounding Bechstein, and 3.) I wanted to.  No other cycles are or can be under consideration for cycle of the year.  Nope.  Too late.  And my arbitrary and capricious selection criteria are sure to arrive at the best possible outcome anyway, so why bother?  That written, if certain pianists were to deliver a new complete set, I'd rethink my position.  Zimerman, Schirmer, Anderszewski, YES, Schuch, Volodos, Rubinsky, Youn, De Maria, Chamayou, Krier - any of these guys or gals released a cycle, I'd loop 'em right in.  But until such a wonderful thing happens, I have assembled the definitive list of the year.  And I don't come into the comps without prejudices.  FFG kicks butt.  So he's a contender.  And Schnyder, the beneficiary of that wonderful piano, well he is well-positioned, too.  (Seriously, the instrument is marvelous.  I'd actually be willing to plop down a grand or two to preserve it properly so everything can be recorded using it, provided I got advance copies of the resulting releases.)  So here goes something entirely objective in approach:

Starting with the C Major.  And then starting with FFG and the Sinfonia Varsovia.  FFG turns out to be good enough leading his crew to start off with a crisp, energetic lead-in.  But with FFG, and every soloist, you want to hear what he does.  He does his thing.  Bright, colorful, rhythmically snappy, with exemplary dynamic control, emphasized by the slightly generous to the soloist balances, he rocks out, including in the muscular cadenza more about oomph than precision.  He slows down for a lovely yet peppy Largo, and closes out with a Rondo emphasizing the Scherzando element.  This is fresher than his first recording, and sounds tip-top. 

Next up, Stewart Goodyear with Andrew Constantine and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.  One notices a more traditional big band sound picture, balance, and orchestral approach to start, with tighter ensemble and greater weight.  Goodyear, of course, will not be outdone by anyone in the purely technical aspects of piano playing, and so it goes here.  Perfect tempo, with just ridiculous accuracy and dynamic control.  And ample energy.  Oh yeah.  He needs to focus on only one task, and that's playing his instrument like Stewart Goodyear, as when belts out the cadenza in silly good fashion.  The Largo is less affected and less effective than FFG, but it's tighter, with Goodyear showing a fine touch, indeed, while the Rondo rollicks nicely, though with the prep work comes less of a sense of freedom when compared to FFG.

Jan Lisiecki leads from the keyboard with the fancy Academy of St Martins in the Fields.  Yep, the band plays nice 'n' crisp, with no little weight and clarity to open, while Lisiecki enters with a hyper-pianistic approach that he doesn't waver from.  He has thought through and rehearsed every nuance, every accelerando, every diminuendo, the precise alteration to note values, everything, and delivers it in a most refined way, resulting in an Allegro con brio that sounds like super-sized Mozart more than Beethoven.  One might raise an eyebrow at Lisiecki's tendency to add so many touches, but flaunt it if you got it, I guess.  The ASMF strings float some lovely support for Lisiecki in the Largo, though here his tendency to over-micro-manage can be too much, though the trills sound almost too good to be true when played pianissimo.  The Rondo ends up sounding like more souped-up Mozart, which keeps things consistent and entertaining.

Hannes Minnaar paired with Jan Willem de Vriend and the world-beating Netherlands Symphony Orchestra.  This concerto and cycle ends up being a tale to two artistic outlooks.  It's quasi-HIP throughout, including some futzing with the piano, and the biggest negative has to do with the sometimes dry and scratchy sounding strings (though winds sound nicely tart).  But concerti are all about the soloist, and fortunately, Minnaar stands above and apart from the band.  Light, fleet, clear, colorful, fun, playful, Beethovenian, he's got it all in the peppy outer movements, and plays with tasteful, restrained drama in the slow movement.  Capped off by top shelf sound, this is a very nice version, indeed.

Finishing off with Oliver Schnyder and James Gaffigan leading the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra.  Gaffigan seems to get the best of all worlds with his big band weighty, occasionally HIP band snappy tempi, all in pristine sound.  Then there's Schnyder.  He tends to play on the zippy side, which he does here, and aided by that sweet friggin' piano, with its bright, colorful upper registers, one can delight in sheer pianistic and musical joy in the Allegro con brio, a feeling enhanced when the sustain is used for the gentlest and beautifulest upper register sustains.  And that cadenza, whoo!  Schnyder and Gaffigan meld musical minds and deliver a probably weightier than it should be, yet not at all too weighty Largo, which manages to sound deep-ish, Beethovenian, and beautiful in precisely the right proportions.  No mush, no excess theatrics, but some real feeling.  Yep.  In the Rondo, Schnyder glides along in a playful yet strict manner.  It's really quite something, and backed by strikingly good orchestral playing. 


Uncontested winner: Schnyder
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Offline Brian

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Re: LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2020, 04:27:00 AM »
It's been about three years since Jonathan Biss told me he had decided on an orchestra to record the concertos with. Wonder what happened to that project. Based on our very limited interaction, he didn't have a ton of interpersonal skills (in turn makes me wonder about how his sonata cycle bounced through so many labels).

-

Last night I had Beethoven cello sonatas on (Harrell/Ashkenazy from the latter's Big Purple Box) and the final two tracks of No. 5 sent the CD player into a frenzy of mechanical whirring and grinding. So I switched over to my other recording of the cello sonatas (Hardy/Orkis, a double cycle on period and modern instruments), and my girlfriend said, "You have the same music on two CDs?? That's so ridiculous!"

So I didn't tell her about the Beethoven symphonies...or Chopin recitals...or Ravel piano sets...or etc. etc.   ;D ;D

Offline Todd

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Re: LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2020, 03:36:26 AM »
Is the B-flat concerto anyone's favorite?  Didn't think so.  It's the pianist's job to make the listener forget that for a while.  Going in the same order, FFG and crew don't try to make the work something it is not.  The Allegro con brio bristles with good time energy and audience pleasing ivory tickling.  A bit more depth is added to the Adagio, but this is still much more about audience pleasing start to finish.  Yes, of course, FFG backs off and lavishes love on the playing - that's part of his thing - but it does not delve deep.  Anyone who could listen to this concluding Rondo and not groove along in a lifted mood is a sullen person sure to suck the oxygen out of a party.  Super nice.

Mr Goodyear and friends start off a bit broader and more strait-laced, but Goodyear himself, while more strait-laced, at times just prances along the keyboard, extracting dynamic shadings and colors lesser pianists envy, and them trills, oh them trills.  And that independence of hands.  Yeah.  The Adagio is less indulgent and more restrained, and much the same can be written about the Rondo, though again Goodyear's pianism clearly carries the recording.  Very nice.

Lisiecki again lavishes much pianistic attention on his playing in the Allegro con brio, which has an ever so slightly relaxed feel, all the better to wallow in ultra-fine dynamic shading.  There's a sense of almost elegance compared to the two prior, which becomes even more obvious in the Adagio, which sounds lovely as all get out, with the ASMF's playing of immense benefit here.  Lisiecki perks up a bit in the Rondo, though here he still can't help using personal rubato just because.  I'm not complaining, just commenting.  Very nice, indeed.

Minnaar and crew deliver something fairly light, almost Mozartean, with Minnaar in particular, playing with an at times feathery touch to augment the splendidly recorded piano.  This is not to say that the piece lacks oomph - it's got a bit more than Lisiecki - just that it's more rarified.  The Adagio stays more or less surface deep, but again Minnaar does some great things with repeated arpeggios popping, and the Rondo sounds like a Mozart-Beethoven-Mendelssohn mashup.  Minnaar leaves the band behind.  Very nice.

Schnyder 'n' Gaffigan open up things just swell.  Gaffigan is so taken with the music that his vocalization can be heard.  Schnyder then enters with that ridiculously good sounding piano played just so, with each note duration and weight perfectly judged.  After the intro, he peps things up, then moves along, back and forth with a fun insistence.  Hardly less fun or insistent is Gaffigan's accompaniment, which, aided by stellar sound, gets to hear young prankster Beethoven, and it's hard to think of more attractive bassoon playing.  The Adagio sounds positively lovely, and Schnyder more or less matches Lisiecki for elegance, and he also avoids trying to go too deep, leaving the hints of greater depth for Gaffigan.  The Rondo is a mix of propriety and fun, with Schnyder embellishing discreetly and playing with admirable clarity of voices, while Gaffigan provides the perfectly blended musical backdrop.  Really, it's masterful accompaniment, keeping the soloist the star yet letting one appreciate the orchestra, nearly as much as one appreciates Schnyder 's right hand playing, in particular.


Uncontested winner: Schnyder
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2020, 06:34:57 AM »
  :laugh:   :laugh:  To save you the trouble, I've just listened to Schnyder/Gaffigan in the 3rd Concerto (probably my favourite of these) - it's "Very nice".   :laugh:

Offline Todd

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Re: LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2020, 03:10:20 AM »


What's this, an interloper?  Yes!  The Yortuk Festrunk of piano, Fazil Say, laid down a kick-ass recording of the C Minor concerto a few years before Schnyder, and I thought it appropriate to loop him into this definitive survey of the best possible contemporary recordings.  The Allegro con brio opens fast 'n' punchy, and Say enters faster and punchier, with exaggerated dynamics and rubato pretty much from the word go.  So far, so good - and expected.  Say hammers out some passages with aggressive sforzandi just because, and zips along in some passages just because, with the exaggeration backed in full force by the band.  It's something to behold.  And that's before the wildest, craziest cadenza in my collection.  Say crushes it, and the recording helps create an illusion that he morphs the piano into an orchestra of its own.  He storms, he muses, he blends Handel and late Beethoven into the mix, and, most important of all, he makes the whole thing sound freshly composed if not truly improvised.  It's monumentally great.  Alternatively some listeners may (incorrectly) think it garish and inappropriate.  Say and Noseda deliver a Largo of no little orchestral beauty and even some pianistic finesse, but they never pull back to an especially slow tempo, keeping things tense and almost operatic.  The low strings, while not bloated, have plenty of texture to them, and the rest of the band offers the star the support he needs to belt out a romantic-modern take of no little accomplishment.  The Rondo is delivered with oodles of pep, drive, with Say delivering some spiffy passages with notable dynamic differentiation between hands, and Say delivers another very fine cadenza.  Sure, there are subtler versions of the concerto out there, but overall, there aren't really better ones.  Like Robert Ritchie, Say's C Minor will stomp all over the test of time.

Now for FFG.  Coming after Say, FFG is much more conventional.  There's less intensity to the whole opening Allegro con brio, which must not be taken to mean that it sounds soggy or anything.  FFG's pianism also veers toward the willful, though much less so.  There's less rubato and less potent staccato, and FFG does not fear gliding along with some lovely legato compared to Say.  The orchestral backing lacks the punch of Noseda's bigger, better recorded band, but it still works quite nicely.  As does the conventional but very nicely done cadenza.  The Largo comes off decidedly more traditional, and really rather lovely.  There's a more subdued sound to it, with FFG displaying some tenderness, and his band following nicely.  The Rondo is pep and energy and hints of drama, but within a more classical framework, but not one that prevents FFG from adding some panache.  Yep, very nice.

Goodyear.  It took until the third recording to get to basically conventional.  The orchestral support is more than ably executed, but comparatively a bit polite throughout the whole set.  This is more or less fine in the Adagio, of course, but the outer movements lack the snap of the prior two versions.  For some, that is desirable.  Goodyear's playing basically cannot be faulted, and his approach is one of supreme execution married to a more classical feel.  Indeed, as one listens to the final movement in particular, with Goodyear prancing around the keyboard, one can't help but notice that he rather handily outclasses both Say and FFG in purely executive terms.  And that in itself is something to listen for.  But, something of a step down overall.

Lisiecki.  Once again, Lisiecki and the ASMF deliver something more laid back, and once again this happens so Lisiecki can lavish much attention on what he does.  Not a bar goes by without him delivering some refined, gorgeous personal touch or five.  It's indulgent, but it's still well within the strictures of classicism, but here how much one appreciates limitless nuances for the sake of limitless nuances may determine how much one likes it.  I happen to rather fancy such an approach, and listening to every figuration, every arpeggio, every carefully weighted chord (in relation to the one before and after), and indeed each individual note can almost elicit a sort of giddiness.  Yep, it hits the spot, even with a lower energy level, and never more than in the too precious yet not precious enough cadenza.  The Adagio offers a more beautiful, almost languid and exaggerated version of the same.  The music does not magically transform into something especially deep, but it beguiles with beauty, forcing the listener to ponder how it can be so beautiful.  Finally, in the Rondo a bit more pep gets introduced, though dynamic range for the whole thing stays somewhat limited.  That's OK, because the piece moves along just fine, and Lisiecki shows off with some of the niftiest runs and trills one could hope for.  A humdinger.

Minnaar.  Minnaar and crew go for a more scaled down sound, which the cleaner recorded sound sort of amplifies much of the time, though in tuttis, the cadenza, and the coda, there's a bit of oomph.  There's no gainsaying Minnaar's playing as playing, and it sounds lovely and smooth and he stays light as a feather, as lovely as Lisiecki, but not as indulgent.  The Adagio, in its lightness, and especially with Minnaar gliding along effortlessly, sounds like a preview of the G Major.  The Rondo somehow sounds a bit heavy and lumbering in the tuttis, which seems to be to add heft, but which sort of detracts.  No real quibbles with Minnaar again.  He zigs and zags and generally belts out his part with aplomb.  This is a case where direct comparative listening highlights overall shortcomings in a recording a bit more than desired.

Schnyder.  Gaffigan and crew again deliver a nigh on perfect open to the Allegro con brio, and then so does Schnyder.  The duo choose the perfect tempo, playing with the right degree of energy and orchestral weight, and Schnyder knows when to basically play obbligato, but he also knows when to sparkle.  And his cadenza sounds just spiffy.  The Adagio starts off nearly hypnotically, with Schnyder creating a wash of color, riding the sustain and using finger legato in some arpeggios to blur one into musical bliss.  Gaffigan offers just so support, and if one could want more drama (as in, say, Say), one can also be satisfied with this, to write the least.  The Adagio is controlled and just a smidge cool compared to either Say or FFG, and while Schnyder lavishes much attention on his part, with the upper registers again bewitching the listener, the playing does not tip over into the same type of indulgence as Lisiecki.  The Rondo has plenty of weight and drive, both orchestrally and pianistically.  Schnyder does not skip along like Minnaar or FFG, but he offers a blend of weight, nimbleness, and color that really is hard to beat.  A third hit out of three.


Winners (a tie!): Schnyder and Lisiecki  (Say is ineligible)
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Offline amw

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Re: LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2020, 03:32:00 AM »
The absence of Stephen Hough/Hannu Lintu, Ronald Brautigam/Michael Alexander Willems, Mitsuko Uchida/Simon Rattle, Inon Barnatan/Alan Gilbert, Gottlieb Wallisch/Martin Haselböck, Dénes Varjon/András Keller, Stefan Vladar, Jayson Gillham/Nicholas Carter, Martin Helmchen/Andrew Manze, or Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (admittedly not out yet) causes me to doubt your dedication to collecting.

Offline Todd

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Re: LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2020, 03:40:11 AM »
causes me to doubt your dedication to collecting.


 :(
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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Offline Brian

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Re: LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2020, 04:46:56 AM »
Stefan Vladar
II, presumably - though he did just acquire Vladar I.

causes me to doubt your dedication to collecting.
;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D A+ post

Offline Todd

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Re: LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2020, 03:43:46 AM »
The G Major.  Some connoisseurs insist that this is the LvB PC, the pinnacle of Beethoven's art in the genre.  Well, not really, but it is one of Beethoven's five best works in the genre.  FFG to start.  Yep, of course he opens with some lovely playing, and then plays the entire rest of the movement with real concert presence and (studied) spontaneity.  His right hand playing here really sounds lovely, even if his clarity doesn't match with the best on record.  The band does follow him, but it's clear that this is about FFG's playing.  Which works.  The cadenza, for out of tune piano, is by Brahms, as are all others for the work.  It is dramatic and effectively reintroduces and reorganizes the music in a new, weighty way.  To say that one can hear something of Brahms in them is an understatement, because Brahms seems to insert some ideas from his concertos, too.  Nice.  (FFG is also a very fine and dedicated Brahmsian, so use of Brahms' work does not surprise.)  The Andante con moto starts terse, with blunt but soft phrasing, and gradually FFG's calming, lovely playing tames the furies, as it should, which means he is free to rollick in a refined way in the Rondo.  All involved play with pep and oomph in perfect measure, though in terms of flawless execution, one must turn to others.  But this is about the spirit of the music more than anything. 

Goodyear's the man if clean and proper playing takes top priority, because the dude don't miss a note.  The playing sounds more classical in demeanor and finely honed.  When Goodyear needs to play fast, he does; when he needs to play slow, he does; when he needs to dispatch trills or runs with precision, he does that, too.  The band again offers very fine support, but here it seems a bit more purely supporting at points.  The cadenza, yes, Goodyear dispatches that with obvious ease.  The Andante offers nice contrasts between the full sized band and the soloist, with quick and pointed playing by the band offset by Goodyear's calm, with the movement resolving nicely, before the Rondo is dispatched with a pleasing blend of technical excellence from soloist and band, with both ample energy and notable restraint when needed. 

Lisiecki.  Mr Lisiecki starts off rich and restrained, the ASMF does their floating a perfect accompaniment thing, and then Lisiecki appears with more pep, with more of that finely graded dynamic swelling and tapering done so effortlessly.  When he digs in a bit, especially with the right hand, there's a tanginess that some might find too brittle, but it works well here.  In the cadenza, Lisiecki shows off his chops, with the best bit being the multiple, simultaneous dynamic levels, precisely rendered.  The Andante starts with nice, furious strings, but here Lisiecki's playing never really achieves an optimal contrast with the strings.  It's nice, yes, but here the brittleness and staccato don't ideally soothe.  The Rondo has more pep and a lighter feel, but here, curiously, Lisiecki sounds a bit stiff in some passages.  Nice, yes, but not a fave.

Minnaar opens simultaneously gently and beautifully, and as he progresses through the opening movement, his fluid playing, with some lovely legato in places, and his seeming desire to just make his instrument sing, creates a softer-hued, almost chamber-like feel to the music.  The band adds HIP oomph, which contrasts very nicely, and the non-standard cadenza adds some sparkle.  The Andante comes off very well.  The strings sound terse and aggressive, and Minnaar counters were playing of, at times, such gentle, lyrical beauty, that even the fiercest sentient creature would succumb to its hypnotic sound.  The Rondo then assumes an almost celebratory feel, with both soloist and band rushing with glee in the faster passages, while still allowing Minnaar to do his thing most beautifully when called upon to do so.  Superb.

Using his unfair advantage in that Bechstein he uses, Schnyder starts with a basically perfect blend of subdued crispness and beauty, and then Gaffigan leads the band in perfectly judged, perfectly balanced playing, with oodles of details evident.  Schnyder's return starts ridiculously softly, then builds up, with the right hand run culminating in a delicious, though not as ideally sharp trill as one could hope for.  A quibble.  Schnyder sort of just chugs along, delivering beautiful sound after beautiful sound.  In the Andante, the strings start with enough weight but not enough attack, which makes Schnyder's inevitable, lovely entrance slightly less impactful and contrasty.  That does not make the playing any less hypnotically beautiful as the movement proceeds.  The Rondo sounds almost standard, with the difference being that friggin' instrument.  Once again, the melodies sound so beautiful than they beguile.  The slightly softer overall approach for the movement from soloist and band almost renders the piano too important, too beautiful, too much of a focus.  Nah, the overall recording sounds just swell.


Winner: Minnaar
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Offline Todd

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Re: LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2020, 03:31:10 AM »
The Big Kahuna.  The E Flat.  The king, nay the emperor of piano concertos!  FFG and crew launch with no little exuberance in the Allegro.  FFG just can't help but play with gusto, but he still delivers some sweet trills where he backs off.  He displays nice independence of hands, and delivers a rollicking good cadenza.  Soloist and band also do a neat dynamic trick, with everyone backing off in volume in perfectly controlled unison, only to ramp back up in a similar manner.  So well done is it, one wonders if knob twiddling might not be involved.  Clarity and ultimate precision go missing here and there, but the energy level is such that it don't matter.  The Adagio stays a bit tense, and FFG certainly plays beautifully, but could it be more beautiful?  Yeah, sure, but the more direct beauty and reluctance to overly romanticize it works very well.  The Rondo opens with a good amount of energy, but not a musical wallop.  And who doesn't want a wallop?  Well, that's a quibble.  The rest of the movement, while not the boldest, does allow one to appreciate FFG's right hand playing and his ability to move forward with oomph and elegance in a nice blend.

Goodyear.  A bigger band and more distant recording creates a grander, more sweeping open.  The band does everything very nicely, thank you, and Goodyear delivers his part with an effortless panache.  You want sweet trills, you got 'em, delivered with ease and surprising delicacy.  Goodyear is so technically assured that he plays everything at a nice tempo and sounds relaxed, though the music doesn't.  The independence of hands is as good as any on record, and playing fast or slow, loud or quiet, he nails it.  A sheen of perfection informs the playing, which is no bad thing, especially with the cadenza and dynamics so well done.  The band lays down a more serene, lovely and exact opening in the Adagio than the tenser Sinfonia Varsovia, and they do so because Goodyear's conception is more genteel.  Yep, he can do the trills with the best of them and play with control to spare.  The Rondo, while beefier than with FFG, at times has a more relaxed feel, though Goodyear erases any concerns about excess lackadaisicalness with his super clean playing.  Nice, if not perhaps one of the great E Flats.

Lisiecki.  The ASMF opens the Allegro in simultaneously measured yet potent fashion, but the microphones love Lisiecki here, who opens in grand, sweeping, but not excessively romantic fashion, with little hints of vocalization tossed on.  The music sounds faster than its timing suggests in the opening music, and the Academy keeps things ship shape.  Lisiecki slows things down a bit later on, taking his time to lavish finely nuanced dynamic control over some passages.  It could be considered too precious, but it isn't.  Lisiecki reinforces this fact when, after playing and directing a satisfying climax, complete with virtuosic superdupergoodness, he backs way, way off and plays with an endearing, irresistible delicacy.  His chops are of course Chopin Competition good, so independence of hands is nifty, trills niftier, and dexterity dazzles when and where it should.  The horn playing deserves special mention, too.  Predictably, the Adagio fares well.  The Academy does support duties with subdued but weighty playing, and Lisiecki layers on the nuance, to an almost garish degree at times, though it beguiles, ultimately smiting even legitimate criticism.  The Rondo has more pep, as it should.  Lisiecki is in full control at all times, no doubt, and if maybe one might want slightly louder forte playing, one savors the quiet playing.  The Academy strings deliver some blockbuster playing, and around 4'20" or so they hog all the attention, in a good way.  Super snazzy.

Minnaar.  The Dutch band opens the Allegro nicely, and Minnaar comes gliding in, effortlessly soaring past them with a smooth sound, even if he doesn't generate maximum punch.  The band's winds sound tart, the strings a tad astringent, and the timps snap.  Nice.  Minnaar does everything he needs to do.  Sweet trills.  Great independence of hands.  Perfectly judged sforzandi.  Gentle soft playing and potent loud playing.  A satisfyingly beefy and uniquely dispensed cadenza.  Check, check, check, check, check.  (The somewhat odd balances makes it seem like the trumpets are off stage at one point.)  The Adagio starts terse and tart, with thin strings actually sounding appealing.  And then it's the Minnaar show.  The same traits that informed the G Major inform this movement, and the results are refined, laid back and lovely.  It kind of doesn't blend ideally with the outer movements, if only because it sounds better.  The Rondo does have ample pep and drive, with Minnaar again displaying all the same traits that work well in the other concertos - and piano trios and violin sonatas.  He's got his stuff sorted. 

And finally Schnyder and Gaffigan end the mini-survey.  The Lucerne band open with weight and textural clarity, and Schnyder enters with a combination of tonal beauty and sweeping grandeur, though perfectly within tasteful bounds, and then backs off to smaller scale, heavenly quiet playing, eking out all manner of beautiful sounds.  Indeed, throughout the Allegro, Schnyder benefits so mightily from his instrument that it is almost unfair.  Oh well.  Schnyder displays very good independence of hands, but he goes one better by emphasizing the right hand for obvious effect, seducing the listener, while delivering left hand playing so carefully calibrated in dynamic nuance and attack as to make one realize that the left hand playing is the real treat!  Sweet, slightly subdued yet tart trills, and left hand led large-scaled music later on, as well as a kick-ass cadenza, all work splendidly.  To be sure, one senses more effort than with either Lisiecki or Goodyear, but the effect is something.  In the Adagio, Schnyder and Gaffigan keeps things tight, offering a super-sized Mozart approach.  The orchestral support is lovely, and Schnyder coaxes beautiful sounds from his piano, but the tension never fully releases, and then in the Presto it's back to bold, weighty - though not too heavy - orchestral playing supporting a fleet and nimble soloist.  Schnyder keeps the movement and work within classical bounds more than romantic ones, and it works splendidly well as that sort of take. 


 
Winners (a tie!): Lisiecki and Schnyder


So, from this group of five recordings, Schnyder emerges as my overall winner, with Lisiecki probably the set of the year if one counts only sets released in 2020.  The extras in the Schnyder set make it more attractive yet, but, of course, the correct course of action is to own all of the sets.

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Offline JBS

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Re: LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2020, 05:23:33 AM »
I notice another set that's been left out is Mustonen/Tapiola Sinfonietta.
Also missing is Bezuidehout/Freiburger BO/Heras Casado, which is being issued in installments

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Offline Brian

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Re: LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2020, 05:44:55 AM »
I notice another set that's been left out is Mustonen/Tapiola Sinfonietta.
Technically a reissue of a 10-15 year old cycle, no?

I tried listening to Bezuidenhout #5 and gave up in mere minutes. Artists I typically think of as reliable but the playing was just wimpy.

Offline JBS

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Re: LvB PC 2020 Shootout
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2020, 07:11:28 AM »


I tried listening to Bezuidenhout #5 and gave up in mere minutes. Artists I typically think of as reliable but the playing was just wimpy.

Oh dear...

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