Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15

Beethoven’s music has been part of life for Alice Sara Ott since childhood. Its mix of the sublime and the earthy, of grand gestures and infinitely subtle contrasts, has seeped deep into her artistic DNA in the years since. Having recorded two of the composer’s sonatas in her early twenties, she turns to the Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and its chief conductor Karina Canellakis. The work’s Classical poise and Romantic volatility inspire a richly detailed performance from Ott and her partners, one distinguished by their sure feeling for its architecture and eloquent interplay of ideas. “Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto is not only one of the greatest pieces of music,” notes Ott. “It also shows the power of music: It lets both the listeners and the performers express and share their emotions and unite through them.” The dramatic ebb and flow of the concerto’s themes and their contrasting emotional states emerge here as an opera without words, one filled with compelling characters and changes of mood. Ott’s performance penetrates deep beneath the surface of what in reality was the composer’s third piano concerto, preceded by a discarded juvenile piece and published ahead of the earlier Piano Concerto No. 2. Soloist, conductor, and orchestra clearly revel in the abundance of Beethoven’s score, the effervescent invention of a composer in his mid-twenties. “We worked hard to achieve a clarity and perfect balance between crisp, articulate rhythms in the first and third movements, and supple, sensuous, dreamy music in the slow movement,” recalls Canellakis. “Alice has a fantastically delicate and refined touch at the piano, and the amazing Netherlands Radio [Philharmonic] Orchestra was able to both support this finesse when playing together and contrast it with a robust intensity whenever playing alone.” Apple Music Classical launches with a brief film of Ott, Canellakis, and her orchestra at work in Beethoven’s Concerto. “Alice and I have worked together in the past and are also friends, so this was such a joyful process,” observes the conductor. “It was tremendous fun to film the video. Beethoven is perhaps the best choice for all possible audiences, from total newcomers who’ve never been to a concert all the way to professional connoisseurs, because his music is so captivating, beautiful and energetic. It’s for literally anyone and everyone to enjoy.”

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