CD Review - Beethoven Piano Concertos 1 & 3 with Neal Peres Da Costa

Clive Brown

“Neal Peres Da Costa’s recording of Beethoven’s First and Third Piano Concertos with the Australian Haydn Ensemble marks a new and exciting development in period-instrument performance of Beethoven’s music. It offers a highly persuasive combination of impressive musicianship and convincing historical research. During the past few decades, research has increasingly revealed a manifest discrepancy between early nineteenth-century practice and conventional modern responses (both on period and modern instruments) to Beethoven’s notation. This recording is remarkable not only for the pianist’s wonderfully free and fluent playing, but also for the excellent performance of the ensemble. Neal Peres Da Costa vividly brings to life well-documented performing practices, including tempo flexibility, classic tempo rubato, extemporary arpeggiation, and independence of the right and left hands, that have scarcely been attempted by other pianists, while the ensemble very convincingly engages with modern research into classical bow-strokes and articulation. These characteristics set their performances apart from all other recordings of early nineteenth-century repertoire known to me. Their divergences from conventional modern practice are so natural and spontaneous, however, that the listener is less conscious of stylistic difference than of musical conviction and eloquence.” Clive Brown.