BEETHOVEN Piano Concertos 3 + 4 / Pollini 4777111

. . . No. 4 has exceptional poise and poetry.

Maurizio Pollini and Karl Böhm made some very fine concerto discs together and the coupling of the Third and Fourth Beethoven Piano Concertos is a welcome reissue of two LPs recorded in 1976 (No. 4) and 1977 (No. 3). These performances have always struck me as a remarkable union of head and heart: Pollini's penetrating intelligence is allied to a quite miraculous range of pianistic colour -- from dramatic and arresting big moments to ravishing and intimate quiet playing. Böhm and the Vienna Philharmonic accompany with great conviction throughout . . . The first movement of the C minor Concerto demonstrates the quality and range of Pollini's playing, with an arresting initial entry (after a terrific orchestral opening) and several passages of astonishing beauty -- the magical piano arpeggios following the orchestra's return after the cadenza, for instance. The Fourth has all the same virtues -- Pollini seems responsive to every nuance but he never loses sight of the larger picture either. The finale is as sunny and unforced a reading as one could wish for.