Britten: Piano Concerto / Gothoni, Kamu, Helsingborg Symphony

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From Ondine comes a perceptive, at times daring, always thought-provoking new account of Britten's Piano Concerto. Indeed, pungent characterization is the order of the day,...
From Ondine comes a perceptive, at times daring, always thought-provoking new account of Britten's Piano Concerto. Indeed, pungent characterization is the order of the day, especially in the two middle movements. Here the ''Waltz'' is teased out with sly seduction by Okku Kamu and his excellent Swedish group, yet at the same time the ominous undertones of this music—its elements of ghostly burlesque and bitter irony—have (to my ears, at any rate) never been more unnervingly projected. Even more distinctive is Ralf Gothoni's provocatively expansive way with the opening of the ''Impromptu''. Britten's theme now emerges like some ravishingly intimate meditation, its quasi-improvisatory air (as the movement's title suggests) compellingly conveyed. Yet such is the magnetic concentration of Gothoni's playing that the line never falters, and the rest of the movement is again memorably realized—how marvellously for example, Kamu 'places' the final sustained ppp string chord.

As on the admirable performance by Joanna MacGregor for Collins Classics, we are also offered the concerto's original slow movement, a sharply inventive, highly capricious ''Recitative and Aria'' (which Britten withdrew in 1945, seven years after the work's premiere). Ondine rather jarringly programme this movement between the ''Waltz'' and ''Impromptu'', whereas Collins allot it a separate track after the concerto proper—an altogether preferable arrangement, I feel. No complaints, though, about the fizz and bravura on show in the opening ''Toccata'', nor about the mock-banal finale, whose largamente climax struts forth in superbly grim fashion here. In sum, a performance which all Brittenites should investigate.

Welcome contrast is afforded by the two Rossini-inspired suites, and Kamu does them both proud. The orchestral playing in Helsingborg has all the necessary poise and affection, whilst I especially enjoyed the extra breathing-space and wealth of tender expression Kamu finds in the two most reflective numbers (namely the ''Canzonetta'' from Soirees and ''Nocturne'' from Matinees) Ondine's sound throughout is simply first-rate. A splendid release.

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone [1/1995]


Product Description:


  • Release Date: October 09, 2008


  • UPC: 761195082522


  • Catalog Number: ODE825


  • Label: Ondine


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Period: ""


  • Composer: Benjamin Britten


  • Conductor: Okko Kamu


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra


  • Performer: Ralf Gothóni



Works:


  1. Concerto for Piano in D major, Op. 13

    Composer: Benjamin Britten

    Ensemble: Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Ralf Gothóni (Piano)

    Conductor: Okko Kamu


  2. Soirées musicales, Op. 9

    Composer: Benjamin Britten

    Ensemble: Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Okko Kamu


  3. Matinées musicales, Op. 24

    Composer: Benjamin Britten

    Ensemble: Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Okko Kamu