It goes without saying that the Concertgebouworkest will be celebrating the anniversary of Beethoven’s birth 250 years ago. None other than Krystian Zimerman is performing the Fourth and Fifth (‘Emperor’) Piano Concertos in a single evening under the direction of Gustavo Gimeno.
With his Piano Concertos 4 and 5, Beethoven proved just how original his genius was. At first, both works met with incomprehension. The Fourth Piano Concerto has an almost improvisatory spontaneity to it. For audiences accustomed to set formulas, the work went down rather badly. Nicknamed the ‘Emperor’ Concerto, the Fifth, on the other hand, is an imposing edifice brimming with the finest of details, a radiant glow and dark edges. The Fifth thus proved too overwhelming. Now, over two centuries later, Beethoven’s immense inventiveness is all that counts.
Krystian Zimerman has been praised for decades for his almost chilling perfectionism. He performs only after having fully captured the essence of the music. Given his intense relationship with the five Beethoven concertos for thirty years, we can expect him to have a balanced vision of these works. Gustavo Gimeno, the renowned conductor who launched his international career with the Concertgebouworkest, is at the helm.
The Concertgebouworkest and Krystian Zimerman are performing all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos in a single week, and newly commissioned works will serve to place them in a contemporary context. A new work composed especially for the Concertgebouworkest by the young Dutch composer Christiaan Richter serves as a companion piece to Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4.