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Michael Greenhalgh
MusicWeb International, September 2017

With this CD, Lars Vogt begins a cycle of Beethoven piano concertos as soloist and conductor of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, of which he has been Music Director since 2015. Immediacy is the characteristic I find most telling about his Piano Concerto 1. There is a bright and purposeful sweep about it, from the calm opening yet grandeur of its repeat, the initially demure second theme, merrily taken up and completed later by the piano after the march-like third theme and fourth theme only heard as the first piano solo. Vogt convinces you that all this material is integrated: the third theme seems to emerge from the second and become march-like. The fourth seems a variation on the second theme, which then mocks it. Even if you know the work well, it is likely that, as it happened to me, that Vogt’s presentation strikes you afresh with the boldness of some of Beethoven’s piano writing and at times equally with its contrasts of mood and phases of tranquillity.

Although Emperor was not an authorized nickname for Piano Concerto 5, it certainly suits the grandeur of its first theme and overall progress in the opening movement. I feel Vogt’s performance also points up Beethoven’s novel approach to cadenzas here. Effectively he showcases them on the piano at the opening with three passages of piano flourishes in response to powerful but pretty bare orchestral chords. Here is boldness and sense of purpose even before the opening theme. That itself begins quite light in the orchestra until horns, trumpets and drums aggrandize it, and you early become aware of a feature of this performance: Vogt’s sensitivity to Beethoven’s dynamic gradations. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Huntley Dent
Fanfare, September 2017

Vogt became music director of the Northern Sinfonia in 2015, and one hears a sympathetic closeness between pianist and orchestra. Their reading of the buoyant First Concerto is lively, a bit terse, but vivacious. Vogt comes near to Martha Argerich, who has made a specialty of this work, in finding musical interest in every bar. Of the three cadenzas Beethoven composed for the First Concerto, I love the longest and most incongruous one.

Recent habits of correctness threaten to reduce the “Emperor” to a student prince, but Vogt, again making a nod to Liszt, approaches the score heroically at high energy; the orchestra follows suit with unabashed vigor. The absence of vibrato in the strings, which also occurs in the First Concerto, sounds somewhat amiss on such a grand scale, but it’s a negligible point. …Vogt is fully engaged, and if you like the scale and attack of Serkin, this new reading will warm your heart. Vogt never diddles around or minimizes Beethoven’s passagework. And on the issue of doing without a conductor, the interpretation sounds complete in the orchestral part, too, rising above what Andsnes achieved, good as he was.

Both performances are aided by really splendid piano sound, among the best I’ve heard recently in a concerted work. Given pianism of such sparkling variety, nothing less than the warmest recommendation is deserved. It’s good to be reminded that giants walked among us. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review



Richard Osborne
Gramophone, June 2017

When Lars Vogt’s recordings of Beethoven’s First and Second Piano Concertos with Simon Rattle and the CBSO were released in 1997, I thought them among the finest accounts of the works I had encountered.

Such was Vogt’s near-perfect mix of playfulness and fantasy, memorably accompanied by Rattle, my 1997 comparisons for the First Concerto included some of the work’s most accomplished exponents: Solomon and Gilels, Brendel and Gould. Happily, the newer performance, which Vogt directs from the keyboard, is every bit as good. If the long lead to the first-movement recapitulation is not quite as magical here as in the earlier performance, the shaping of the great third cadenza is more assured and the finale has an added spaciousness and weight that takes nothing from the performance’s energy and wit. As for the Royal Northern Sinfonia, they have all the responsiveness of a chamber-music ensemble, married to a range and depth of sonority which you might expect from a rather larger ensemble. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone




Remy Franck
Pizzicato, May 2017

Fresh, spontaneous, free of pathos, yet very soulful performances for which Lars Vogt has thoughtfully developed his very own ideas. The pianist-conductor and the orchestra form one harmonious unit. © 2017 Pizzicato



John Suchet
Classic FM, May 2017

Conducting the Royal Northern Sinfonia from the keyboard, Vogt shows the brilliance and the beauty of these two majestic works of the classic piano concerto literature. © 2017 Classic FM Read complete review





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