Three’s company in period-instrument Beethoven 

Beethoven Conunova

The Strad Issue: July 2019

Description: Three’s company in period-instrument Beethoven 

Musicians: Alexandra Conunova1 (violin) Natalie Clein1 (cello) David Kadouch1 (piano) Bertrand Chamayou(piano) Sandrine Piau2, Kristina Vahrenkamp2 (sopranos) Anaïk Morel2 (alto) Stanislas de Barbeyrac2, Jean-François Chiama2 (tenors) Florian Sempey2 (baritone) Accentus2, Insula Orchestra/Laurence Equilbey

Works: BEETHOVEN ‘Triple’ Concerto1; Choral Fantasy2

Catalogue Number: ERATO 90295505738

This period-instrument recording of Beethoven’s ‘Triple’ Concerto is colourful and immediately appealing. After the delicacy and grandeur of the orchestral opening, Alexandra Conunova and Natalie Clein play with great melodic sensitivity, their lines simply and artistically shaped. Clein, who gets the lion’s share of solo melody, shows great expressive range, mixing plain, almost doleful playing with warm colour. Elsewhere in the first movement they throw bone-dry staccato triplets back and forth. Throughout there is a marked contrast between a kind of drawing-room elegance, all ease and sophistication, and gritty, muscular playing, with the bows biting into the strings. Given its head, the orchestra provides almost operatic drama, with prominent pounding timpani. Clein performs the opening theme of the Largo with wonderful long-breathed fluency, which is matched by Conunova in her turn. The finale has a dashing, debonair quality. Pianist David Kadouch plays with clarity and energy. 

The 1892 Pleyel piano has a fruity bass and bright treble, which enrich the opening Adagio of the Choral Fantasy, now with pianist Bertrand Chamayou. There is superb, characterful wind playing to follow, with gleeful natural horns, and blasts of joy from the singers when they finally appear. The recorded sound is clear and detailed.