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David Deveau - Beethoven, Mozart, Harbison

Release Date: 09/21/2018
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30099
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ,  Ludwig van Beethoven ,  John Harbison Performer:  David Deveau ,  Thomas Van Dyck ,  Jessica Bodner Orchestra/Ensemble:  Borromeo String Quartet

Pianist David Deveau enjoys a distinguished career internationally, performing in the US, Canada, the UK, Europe and Asia. His first recording for Steinway, Siegfried Idyll, was critically acclaimed in the New York Times and Gramophone, and was listed as one of the yearís ten best classical albums by the Boston Globe in 2015. Mr. Deveau now brings us intimate chamber versions of Mozartís delightful Piano Concerto No. 14 and Beethovenís lyrical Piano Concerto No. 4.

R E V I E W S:

The U.S.-based Steinway & Sons attempts to re-create the pianism and the piano environment of an earlier era, and they do well here to examine the large repertory of "concerti a quattro": piano concertos in arrangements
Read more for string quartet and orchestra. To hear Mozart's concertos played this way, especially the earlier ones with their lack of independent wind parts, is not unusual. But pianist David CDeveau, the Borromeo String Quartet, and a few added musicians here unearth something rarer: a quartet version of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58. This spacious work might seem an impossible order for these forces, but the arrangement used stems from Beethoven's own world: Beethoven's patron, Prince Lobkowitz, wanted a presale hearing of the concerto, and Beethoven obliged with the present arrangement. There is debate over whether Beethoven composed the arrangement himself or delegated it, but it is artfully done regardless of the author: not a straight transcription but with string effects, often involving an added viola, that suggest the instrumentation of the full version. Sample the 20-minute first movement, which never becomes texturally monotonous despite the risk. The Mozart Piano Concerto No. 14 in E flat major, K. 449, has the same strengths. The Beethoven concerto features new cadenzas by John Harbison, who is represented by a short solo piano piece of his own. That and the solo piano Mozart Fantasia in C minor, K. 396, seem superfluous to the program, and Deveau's decision to add a bass to his arrangements, especially in the case of the rarely heard Beethoven, is debatable. But his chamber-sized interpretations, on a modern Steinway, are beautifully controlled, and the whole makes an elegant and lively impression even if you disagree in some details. Recommended, and essential for those interested in Beethoven reception.

-- AllMusic Guide

[This disc] juxtaposes chamber arrangements of orchestral works by Beethoven (his fourth piano concerto) and Mozart (his 14th concerto and his c-minor Fantasia), with, interestingly enough, a brief John Harbison piece. (Harbison also wrote the cadenzas for the Beethoven concerto.) This [disc] is of significant academicĖand aesthetic!Ėinterest. Great playing all around, and beautifully recorded in a warm, dry acoustic.

-- CDHotlist

If you were hearing Mozartís K449 and Beethovenís Fourth Concerto for the first time via these reductions for string quintet or sextet and piano, you wouldnít suspect that anythingís amiss. This is partly due to the intense and enlivening contributions of the Borromeo Quartet (and colleagues), matched note by note and point by point by David Deveauís mindful, stylish virtuosity.

The ensemble sustain the Beethoven first-movement ritornelloís broad basic tempo with a degree of note-to-note inflection that more than compensates for the particular tonal qualities of Beethovenís instrumentation (the second subjectís plaintive solo oboe, for example). The finaleís rapid exchanges between piano and strings not only benefit from the elevated chamber interplay resulting from reduced forces but also allow for subtle tempo fluctuations, and for the scurrying bass lines to emerge with refreshing clarity. Listeners will notice how the stringsí fierce projection and focus of the slow movementís declarative unison tuttis provide a foil to Deveauís plaintive reserve.

Nor are the Mozart readings any less intelligently detailed. In the finale, the easy-going repartee between piano and strings yields bracing contrapuntal cogency, while the slow movementís operatic melody lines and relatively modest accompanimental figurations emerge with shapely and meaningful interaction. Composer John Harbisonís cadenzas for the Mozart are thoroughly idiomatic but not so imaginatively wrought as his Beethoven cadenzas, which admittedly venture on occasion into early Brahms/Fauré harmonic territory. Late Fauré, however, appears to be the jumping-off point for Harbisonís gorgeous little Anniversary Waltz, an impression enhanced by Deveauís sensitive performance. I also like his ripe and vocally informed Mozart K396 Fantasia, featuring bass lines that resonate and soar to the heavens. Excellent sound and annotations add to this discís appeal.

-- Jed Distler, Gramophone
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