29 Mar 2021
Review. My days of Beethoven Triple Concerto skepticism are now behind me, thanks to this breathtaking new recording by the powerhouse team of Faust-Queyras-Melnikov and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra under Pablo Heras-Casado.
It’s partly the sound world of the period instruments and how masterfully the soloists blend timbres and colours (thanks equally to the ‘stringy’ fortepiano and the non-vibrato strings). But it’s also the sense of untrammelled exploration and joviality that makes this, for me, the ultimate interpretation. The charm and wit with which all concerned inject the music make it more akin to a mini-opera buffa than a concerto; and I challenge anyone not to want to dance to the quasi-polonaise episode of the Rondo at 5’20”. This even beats Helmchen & Co, never mind Karajan’s league of Russian gentlemen (Oistrakh, Rostropovich and Richter – EMI/Warner, 1/70). Recorded in two days in June 2020, as soon as travel bans were temporarily eased, and with the performers seated 1.5 metres apart, it almost seems that social distancing brought them closer together, such is the relish, spontaneity and inventiveness of the playing.