What the critics said:
“A change from Beethoven’s five piano concertos – that might be the first impulse (to wish for). But on the first of three nights at the Vienna Musikverein it soon became clear that the Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra aren’t interested in good-risk-free repertoire. This does not mean that an attempt was made in a revolutionary gesture to reinvent the wheel that is Beethoven. Rather that through the quasi-ideological dividing line between “traditional” and “modern” approaches this contemporary interpretation showed that playing a 200 year old work, could appear new to our ears.
“Such a rare moment occurred with the C-minor concerto on Monday: Andsnes, directing from the piano, created an ideal pace, fluid enough not to let the main theme seem cumbersome, but neither hurried. When did you last hear this orchestral introduction so finely played? One motif peels organically off from the other … The tense balance (no objection) is suddenly blown to the wind for a few seconds by the entrance of the piano, with its crystal clear and hard hammered chords – until Andsnes, using the softest piano strokes, defines the two poles. In the cadence it is again the pianist who uses the fullest extreme, to create quasi-impressionistic soundscapes.
“The reconciliation of opposites was also excellently heard in the Fourth Piano Concerto, given on the first night – from the transition of the tender expiring Andante to the sparkling final Rondo …”
Helmar Dumbs, Die Presse, 3 December 2014
“The Norwegian Leif Ove Andsnes, one of the outstanding pianists of our times and former Artistic Director of the Risør Festival, gave two concerts of his Beethoven Journey in the Vienna Musikverein. For four years now he has concentrated entirely on Beethoven’s extensive piano works.
“On the first evening he led Beethoven’s Piano Concertos nos 1 and 4 with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra … In the last movement, with its dissolved balletic impetus, the feeling was one of elation. On the second evening he played Piano Concerto No. 3 – Exciting, full of depth and with sparkling punches.
“Since he had 100 powerful members of the Choral Society of the Friends available, Andsnes also conducted the seldom-heard Choral Fantasy from the piano. Here he triumphed brilliantly in the delicate piano part with its virtuoso prelude, then going on to delicately develop the simple theme song, which later became the Ode to Joy of the “Ninth” in all its power.”
Volkmar Parschalk, Krone Zeitung, 3 December 2014