Hannes Minnaar, The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, Jan Willem de Vriend – Beethoven: The Complete Piano Concertos (2017) DSF DSD64 + Hi-Res FLAC

Hannes Minnaar, The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, Jan Willem de Vriend – Beethoven: The Complete Piano Concertos (2017)
DSD64 (.dsf) 1 bit/2,8 MHz | Time – 169:59 minutes | 3,76 GB
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 169:59 minutes | 3,21 GB
Source: SACD-R, Challenge Classics # CC 72763 | Artwork: Digital Booklet(s)

Here is the box containing Beethoven’s five Piano Concertos performed by Hannes Minnaar and The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jan Willem de Vriend. So far two single volumes had been issued: while the one including Concertos nos. 4 & 5 was acclaimed by Gramophone as: “beginning a Beethoven cycle with the Fourth and Fifth Concertos is a bold move but one that pays off in all sorts of ways”, the same magazine welcomed the disc with Concertos nos. 1 & 2 for “its pleasing mix of finesse and drive”. Now the box also offers the so far unissued Concerto #3. Despite the very large number of recordings already made of this musical corpus, Minnaar and de Vriend have proved that they have something new and totally their own to say about this collection of masterpieces. And it is indeed the peculiar blend of sheer energy and esprit de finesse that can be identified as the distinctive brand or these recordings.

Pianist Hannes Minnaar has made a name for himself as a soloist with three albums to his name, member of the award-winning Van Baerle Trio, and most recently winner of the Dutch Music Award in 2016, the highest available from the Dutch Government. This means being in a safe pair of hands when it comes to the solo parts for Beethoven’s five Piano Concertos.

These recordings have already appeared as individual CDs aside from the Third Concerto which, being too short in duration for a physical release, has been download-only until now. There is an interesting aspect of this recording hidden at the back of the booklet. Along with the selection of a Steinway & Sons concert grand by the soloist there is mention of the efforts made by tuner Gerben Bisschop to “prepare the historical tuning of the instrument.” This is not further clarified, but presumably implies a move from equal temperament to a more old-fashioned meantone tuning. You probably wouldn’t notice much difference here in comparison to alternative modern-piano recordings, though it I had to make a call on the character of the piano in relationship to the orchestra then it seems just a little warmer in tone. The trend for piano sound in recent years has been for sparkly brilliance, and this extra touch with regard to the preparation of the piano lends an extra waft of expressive nuance to the whole. That exposed first chord at the beginning of the Fourth Concerto is certainly interestingly textured.


01. Piano Concerto No.4 Op.58 in G major – I. Allegro moderato
02. Piano Concerto No.4 Op.58 in G major – II. Andante con moto
03. Piano Concerto No.4 Op.58 in G major – III. Rondo: Vivace
04. Piano Concerto No.5 Op.73 in E flat major (‘Emperor’) – I. Allegro
05. Piano Concerto No.5 Op.73 in E flat major (‘Emperor’) – II. Adagio un poco mosso
06. Piano Concerto No.5 Op.73 in E flat major (‘Emperor’) – III. Rondo: Allegro

01. Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major Op.19 – I. Allegro con brio
02. Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major Op.19 – II. Adagio
03. Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major Op.19 – III. Rondo: Molto Allegro
04. Piano Concerto No.1 in C major Op.15 – I. Allegro con brio
05. Piano Concerto No.1 in C major Op.15 – II. Largo
06. Piano Concerto No.1 in C major Op.15 – III. Rondo: Allegro

01. Piano Concerto No.3, Op.37 – I. Allegro con brio
02. Piano Concerto No.3, Op.37 – II. Largo
03. Piano Concerto No.3, Op.37 – III. Rondo: Allegro

Hannes Minnaar – piano
The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra
Jan Willem de Vriend – Conductor

Producer, Balance Engineer, Editing & Mastering by Bert van der Wolf.
Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 – Recorded on February 2-4, 2015
Piano Concerto No. 3 – Recorded on September 23 & 27, 2016
Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5 – Recorded on May 26-28, 2014
Recorded at Muziekcentrum, Enschede, The Netherlands.







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