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Huntley Dent
Fanfare, January 2020

The major burden is on the pianist, and I’d call Giltburg variable. He shows his Russian roots by playing on a large scale… From measure to measure Giltburg can be rather neutral, as he is in Concerto No. 1 much of the time, and he turns coarse here and there. But he undergoes a change and plays with more sparkle and involvement in Concerto No. 2, which is the best thing here.

…Complete Beethoven cycles have to start somewhere, and this effort is certainly good enough. © 2020 Fanfare Read complete review

International Piano, January 2020

There is much to admire about these performances… particularly as the RLPO are in such fine, lean form under Petrenko. © 2020 International Piano

The Sunday Times, London, December 2019

With his incisive rhythms and muscular left hand, the Israeli pianist gives vivacious performances, vividly accompanied by Vasily Petrenko and his players. © 2019 The Sunday Times, London

Michael Greenhalgh
MusicWeb International, December 2019

Made me revaluate the Second Concerto as a more urbane, witty and subtle work than the more exuberant and, in the slow movement, romantic First Concerto. Both are given very fresh accounts with the contrast between the two telling, through Petrenko’s acuity in orchestral pointing and Giltburg’s charisma, a compeer for young Beethoven as virtuoso. © 2019 MusicWeb International

Hank Zauderer
My Classical Notes, December 2019

Beethoven’s first two piano concertos share many lyric and virtuosic qualities. Concerto No. 1 in C major is expansive and richly orchestrated with a wonderful slow movement that is tender, and a finale full of inventive humor.

The Concerto No. 2 in B flat major combines energy with elegance, reserving poetic breadth for its slow movement and the quirky wit for the finale. © 2019 My Classical Notes Read complete review

Michael Greenhalgh
MusicWeb International, November 2019

…Giltburg at 35, relishing his ability. In the development he’s warmly ruminative and a sense of extended contemplation with Petrenko’s spare and delicate orchestral backing is apparent. Until Giltburg’s thunderous octaves which herald the recapitulation and another solo making whoopee. Yet then a pleasurable surprise is the gently savoured treatment of the second theme by orchestra and piano in turn, but from 11:15 just listen to the uninhibited left-hand staccato running quavers.

This leads me to a straightforward summing up for this entire Naxos CD: while Petrenko supports with customary flair, it’s Giltburg’s playing that’s special. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Jed Distler
Gramophone, November 2019

Boris Giltburg’s polished and cultivated pianism shines in the crystalline scales of the First Concerto’s Allegro and in how he shapes his solo in the development section (starting at 7’02”) so that the phrases sweetly sing over the bar lines. If Giltburg isn’t so rabble-rousing and angular as Yefim Bronfman or Leon Fleisher in the Rondo finale, he compensates with witty turns of phrase, such as the buoyant broken octaves and the conversational exchanges between hands (bars 89 118, around 1’14”), and the roundness and definition of his staccatos in the A minor theme.

If anything, the B flat Second Concerto’s outer movements elicit more inspired and scampering soloist/ensemble interplay. I especially like Giltburg’s slightly studied yet imaginatively nuanced parsing of the first-movement cadenza’s fierce counterpoint, and his attention to the accompaniment’s inner voices in the Adagio. The stand-alone Rondo in B flat was Beethoven’s original ending for the Second Concerto, and why this delightful, unpredictable work is not a regular concert staple is a mystery. Giltburg and Petrenko revel in the work’s disarming humour and magical transitions, serving up its most captivating recording since the venerable Julius Katchen/Piero Gamba version (Decca, 5/59). Giltburg’s enthusiasm spills over into his informative booklet notes, where he gives plausible reasons for choosing the shorter of Beethoven’s two completed cadenzas for the C major Concerto’s first movement. © 2019 Gramophone Read complete review

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, November 2019

A welcome early entry in the 250th Birthday celebration for Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is this fine new account of the composer’s first two piano concertos with Boris Giltburg on piano and Vasily Petrenko at the podium of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Neither are strangers to this column, where each makes his sixth appearance here in nuanced performances of Beethoven standards that show us we shouldn’t take the old boy for granted.

The Adagio combines poetry and tranquility with the tension of a surprisingly dramatic episode before the piano opens up with a beautifully sustained singing tone for which Beethoven was famous (and which, observes Giltburg, was all the more remarkable considering the smaller dynamic range and shorter tone duration of the pianos Beethoven had at his disposal). © 2019 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review

International Piano, November 2019

Giltburg confirms his tangible and real feeling for Beethoven’s music… the contribution of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra should not be overlooked, as they provide exemplary and strongly characterised support throughout under Petrenko. © 2019 International Piano

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, October 2019

Boris Giltburg, Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic begin a complete recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos with the first two. In general these are rather traditional interpretations, very lively and refined, especially in the piano part very sophisticated, very clearly articulated, with interesting colours and subtle changes in dynamics and tempi. © 2019 Pizzicato Read complete review

Andrew McGregor
BBC Radio 3, October 2019

…suddenly there are so many new recordings of Beethoven piano concertos around; I’ve enjoyed this one more than most.

…I really warmed to the neutral balance and disciplined orchestral playing, the brisk tempos, and Giltburg’s crisp articulation…it’s all to easy to swamp these first two Beethoven concertos if you don’t observe their Haydnesque wit, which Giltburg obviously enjoys enormously. You can tell not just from the playing in that finale, but also his eloquent booklet notes. © 2019 BBC Radio 3

Gary Lemco
Audiophile Audition, October 2019

…Boris Giltburg injects vivid, thrilled energy into the two early concertos, 1793 and 1800, of Beethoven. Giltburg performs on a Fazioli instrument of warm temper. The clarity of the Liverpool clarinets, trumpets, and tympani set a bright tone for the entire first movement of the (later) C Major Concerto, whose martial energies and rocket figures find a delicious counter in the lyrical melodic tissue, trills, and colorful modulations from Giltburg. © 2019 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Tal Agam
The Classic Review, October 2019

…Giltburg and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic hit the right note, with a joyful and well-balanced performance. This is evident from the very first bars of the first movement. There is a good sense of direction that leads to the piano entrance… © 2019 The Classic Review Read complete review

John Suchet
Classic FM, October 2019

In this latest release, Boris Giltburg and Vasily Petrenko come together with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

The internationally renowned pianist and conductor bring their talents and energy to Beethoven’s first two piano concertos, which were composed within the composer’s early period.

Interestingly, when Beethoven premiered his Piano Concerto No.1 in Prague, the audience reacted well… © 2019 Classic FM Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2019

Recorded the day following his Liverpool performance of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto, could this be the beginning of a complete cycle from Boris Giltburg?

A couple of decades ago I was given the daunting task of comparing all the cycles available on CD. The outcome, not unsurprisingly, was that these are works that can offer a very wide range of interpretations, and most are eminently satisfying. Timings of each movement are a key to the style of the performance we hear, and while Giltburg makes full use of Beethoven’s ‘con brio’ direction in the opening movement of the first concerto, his tempos throughout are not unduly fast, and you will be pleased with the joy his nimble fingers extract from the final Rondo. At the same time he does avoid the Germanic portentousness we find in much vaunted recordings of yesteryear, his second movement Largo possessing a nice flowing poetic momentum. Moving to the Second concerto, Vasily Petrenko’s orchestral introduction to the opening movement would indicate that here again we are looking at a vivid and vital account, and so it proves to be. Giltburg here, and in the following Adagio, concentrating on lyrical beauty. As with the First, the finale is full of happiness. …Giltburg has added the composer’s original Rondo to the concerto. Standing alone it is a charming score and here, and throughout the disc, the balance between soloist and orchestra has been perfectly judged, the playing of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic both neat and well groomed. I hope we will have the remainder of the cycle. © 2019 David’s Review Corner

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