The New York Times reviews Leif Ove Andsnes performance of Kurtag and Beethoven with the New York Philharmonic

“Typically the New York Philharmonic opens its season with a gala concert that is broadcast in public television’s “Live From Lincoln Center” series. But in a significant departure Alan Gilbert opened his fourth season as the Philharmonic’s music director on Wednesday night at Avery Fisher Hall with a substantial subscription program, offering works for piano and orchestra by Gyorgy Kurtag and Beethoven, and ending with Stravinsky’s formidable “Rite of Spring.”

… “Maybe moving the gala into next week allowed Mr. Gilbert to open the season with a musically distinguished evening. Whatever the reason, Wednesday’s concert, broadcast live on the WQXR radio, offered the splendid pianist Leif Ove Andsnes in Mr. Kurtag’s mysterious “… quasi una fantasia …,” for piano and groups of instruments (completed in 1988), and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor.

“… When he first came to attention as a young man, Mr. Andsnes was not drawn to Beethoven. At 42 he is now immersed in a project he calls his “Beethoven Journey,”performing the sonatas and concertos, and recording all five concertos with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, which he also conducts. (The first release, pairing the First and Third Concertos, was just issued.)

“True to form, Mr. Andsnes’s performance of the Third Concerto here combined effortless brilliance and scrupulous integrity. Some may prefer a more overtly dramatic approach to Beethoven. Mr. Andsnes’s playing had affecting naturalness and self-effacing beauty. Every note spoke; every phrase was shaped with grace; every rhythmic detail and harmonic twist came through vibrantly without anything seeming fussed over or underlined: qualities matched by the lithe, emphatic playing of the orchestra.

“At times you might have thought that Mr. Andsnes was taking exceptionally brisk tempos, especially during the final rondo, played with zest, crispness and imagination. Actually it was the uncanny clarity and lightness of his playing that made the tempo seem faster than it was. Yet what I will most remember is the tranquil elegance and nobility he brought to the slow movement.”

Source: New York Times