Phillip Kawin, Gerard Schwarz & Russian National Orchestra | Phillip Kawin: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3

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Phillip Kawin: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3

by Phillip Kawin, Gerard Schwarz & Russian National Orchestra

Genre: Classical: Concerto
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3: Allegro Con Brio
Phillip Kawin, Gerard Schwarz & Russian National Orchestra
0:00 album only
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2. Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3: Largo
Phillip Kawin, Gerard Schwarz & Russian National Orchestra
0:00 album only
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3. Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3: Rondo - Allegro
Phillip Kawin, Gerard Schwarz & Russian National Orchestra
0:00 album only
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4. Allegro Con Brio
Phillip Kawin, Gerard Schwarz & Russian National Orchestra
0:00 album only
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5. Largo
Phillip Kawin, Gerard Schwarz & Russian National Orchestra
0:00 album only
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6. Rondo - Allegro
Phillip Kawin, Gerard Schwarz & Russian National Orchestra
0:00 album only

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Joel Flegler

Cause for celebration
Colin Clarke, Fanfare magazine

All of Phillip Kawin’s performances that have come my way have always exuded mastery of every aspect of performance, from technique through to the depth of interpretation. The same excellence pervades this performance of Beethoven’s C-Minor Concerto, a studio account filmed in the Rachmaninov Concert Hall in Moscow, without audience. The director, Paul Carasco, has both a musician’s ear (he is a noted pianist himself) and an artistic eye: He guides us effortlessly, and without jarring, to the correct musical contributors but also finds angles of some beauty (taking into account the blue background behind the orchestra).

The first Allegro con brio is taken in four to a measure, with Gerard Schwarz relaxing into two beats per measure in the more lyrical exchanges later in the movement. Antiphonal violins add to the transparency. The Russian National Orchestra's sound is warm yet alive, with the woodwinds being particularly impressive (and expressive) in all movements, particularly perhaps in the central Largo. The strength of Kawin’s interpretation is underlined by the resonance between pianist and conductor. In its demeanor, with its emphasis on warmth and detail as opposed to tension generated by speed, in many ways this account reminded me of Stephen Kovacevich’s Philips recording with the BBC Symphony and Colin Davis. Definition and detail are remarkable in the Master Performers release, even including the gleaming articulation of the gestural piano descents back into the movement’s powerful main theme. The first movement piano cadenza (the standard one by Beethoven) is majestic, with an underlying confidence that enables it to work as few other pianists have realized, the fire of the F-Minor triplet section coming from within and yet still stirring for the listener. The later outer-voice dialogue around the internal trills makes its mark too, with the ensuing single trills melding seamlessly into to the re-entry of the orchestra.

The central Largo is taken at a perfectly flowing tempo—noble, dignified, and restrained, with myriad beauties, not least from the orchestra. The woodwind contributions are highly expressive, but so is the tender string passage just prior to the final measures. The contrast with the finale is marked, the latter finding Kawin’s articulation in sparkling form; yet the contrasting episodes are able to exist in an expansive space, while the tempo means that the coda can be taken at a pace that respects the brio of the passage and yet still allows each and every note to resound and speak fully. The close-ups of Schwarz enable us to see just what a communicator he is with his musicians.

The maturity and integrity of this entire performance is remarkable. In a catalog that features myriad excellent performances of this masterwork, with approaches as different as Aimard, Backhaus, and Cliburn (to take only the A, B, and C of it), it is quite something to offer a distinctive take that is, within itself, fully consistent, but that is what Kawin and Schwarz offer; that this is part of a projected cycle is clearly cause for celebration. Two discs are included, one Blu-ray, one DVD; the superior visual clarity of Blu-ray increasingly pulls me in that medium’s direction here and elsewhere.
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