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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37a (1800) [32’59]. Triple Concerto, Op. 56b (1903) [35’36].
aMarguerite Long, bAngelica Morales (pianos); bRicardo Odnoposoff (violin); bStefan Auber (cello); aParis Conservatoire Orchestra, bVienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Felix Weingartner.
From Columbia aLX581/4, bLX671/5. Rec. aThéâtre Pigalle, Paris, on June 10th, 1939, bMittlerer Konzerthaussaal, Vienna, on October 20th-21st, 1937. ADD
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110878 [68’35]


The Beethoven Third represents my second recent exposure to the Long/Weingartner experience, the first being an Andante multi-disc set of historical Beethoven interpretation (AND1995: ). The first thing to note is that Mark Obert-Thorn for Naxos has succeeded in presenting the listener with an altogether more comfortable experience> The distortion I mentioned in my review of the Andante towards the end of the first movement’s orchestral exposition has completely disappeared. If anything, detail in the second movement seems even clearer; the wind solos against piano accompanimental figuration - around 3’55 - are more audible even than in most modern recordings, particularly the bassoon. Of course, the extra clarity makes the (unmarked) held string chords against piano cadenza-like writing in the finale sound even stranger.

Listening again to the interpretation, Long seems more super-sensitive than ever, Weingartner the attentive accompanist (almost always - at 3’44 the orchestra enters late, and again round 5’30 soloist and orchestra briefly part company). The choice of the Moscheles cadenza remains a refreshing one, an insertion that moves from day-dreamy meanderings to thick-textured virtuosic storm. For all that, its end is more traditional than Beethoven is in his cadenza.

The first movement begins, under Weingartner, with terrific depth of intent, a trait continued in a finale that eschews the windows of light it is usually granted. Long displays a supremely even left hand - what are usually heard as simple accompanying semiquavers under the rondo theme of the finale here become objects of interest in themselves. Notice also how the coda of the finale moves from the utmost feather-lightness to gritty determination and back again within seconds, providing in microcosm Long and Weingartner’s ability to shift moods instantaneously.

The Triple Concerto is discographically significant because it was the first ever recording of the piece. It is of much more than passing interest as a performance as well. Jonathan Woolf gives introductions to the soloists in his review of this disc ( ). Now at the helm of the VPO, Weingartner brings forth an interpretation of great maturity. The very opening is instructive as to the sheer scope of this account: the cellos and basses emerge subterraneously. Odnoposoff and Auber make for a good pairing of string soloists; the Mexico-born Angelica Morales may seem slightly less happy a choice if one listens to the disc straight through - she is no Marguerite Long. Yet she is by no means deficient, and plays as a real chamber musician. It is Auber’s singing, deep-toned cello that the ear keeps returning to, and it is he that provides the highlights of this interpretation. Recording-wise, the violin can sometimes come across as shrill; a real disadvantage when sweet cantabile in the upper reaches is called for, but this remains a superb transfer. The slow movement emerges as a lyric outpouring and not an over-Romanticised one. The transition to the finale acts as eloquent testimony to the telepathic link between violinist and cellist, as the one takes over from the other.

The finale itself, a ‘Ronda alla polacca’, stretches over nearly 13 minutes. Certainly the soloists seem happy to enjoy (being the operative word) the various more intimate moments along the way. A pity that Beethoven’s robust humour is somewhat underplayed, yet perhaps unsurprising given Weingartner’s evident reverence for this composer. Here the recording does obscure detail on occasion; yet the final minutes reveal feather-light playing from the string soloists, faithfully recorded and transferred.

The benchmark recording of the Triple Concerto was not to emerge until 1969 (David Oistrakh/Rostropovich/Richter with the BPO and von Karajan: now on EMI GROC CDM566 902-2). However this Weingartner, by no means so technically perfect, remains essential listening.

Malcolm Walker’s notes are a model of their kind, informed and informative.
Colin Clarke

see also review by Jonathan Woolf


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