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Richard Goode's Beethoven piano concertos on Nonesuch



Richard Goode piano
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Iván Fischer

UK release date - 5 May 2009

Richard Goode has a long-term, creative relationship with Nonesuch Records - his recordings for the label include the complete Beethoven sonatas. Goode's latest project is another Beethoven cycle, this time the complete piano concertos with the Budapest Festival Orchestra conducted by Iván Fischer. Goode's creative partnership with the Hungarian orchestra took place in 2005 when they performed all the Beethoven concertos in a two-part tour of Europe before recording the cycle as well. Goode was nominated for a 2009 Gramophone Award for his Beethoven recording, in the Concerto category of the awards which are sponsored by Classic FM.


Hear two extracts from Richard Goode's Beethoven piano concertos (courtesy of Nonesuch Records).

The opening of the 3rd movement (Rondo, Vivace) of Concerto No.4 in G major, Op.58:

The opening of the 2nd movement (Largo) of Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.37:

Click here to hear the complete second movement of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.4 from Goode's Nonesuch recording on Alex Ross's 'The Rest is Noise' blog.

Click here to hear a podcast interview from Classic FM which features Richard Goode talking about the new release.


“There’s no faulting the contributions of Fischer and his orchestra…. Their taut, crisply accented performance, never too opulent, allows Goode’s solo playing to stand in sharp relief.

…The Mozartean wit and elegance of the Second Concerto and the sudden bursting of expressive boundaries in the Third produce the best from both Goode and the orchestra; his playing has a wonderful pearly definition, there is just the right amount of astringency.”
The Guardian, June 2009

“For European pianists, performing and recording Beethoven cycles is never a task undertaken lightly. But it is undertaken. American musicians are more cautious still, except the rigorously dedicated Richard Goode, the pianist revered even by pianists. Twelve years ago Nonesuch released his account of the complete Beethoven sonatas. Now it is the concertos’ turn, recorded in 2005 in Budapest with the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Ivan Fischer.

What has held up this splendid set? Post-production grouches? Stupidity? Forgetfulness? It’s academic now, for lost paradise is regained the moment Goode and Fischer’s musicians bounce into the C Major Concerto, Op 15… Goode’s special gift has always been his selfless artistry: his penetrating intellect, warm heart and nimble fingers are entirely placed at the composers’ service.

Being Beethoven, Beethoven often makes contrary demands, but Goode knows just how to balance and weigh conflicting elements: argument and repose, dark and light, struggle and wit. With their bumptious cadenzas and dreaming pauses, the first two concertos wriggle about with particular zest. Goode meets their challenges with a mix of aplomb and discriminating taste. When Beethoven is strenuous, Goode never batters; when he smiles, Goode never clips the notes into topiary.

Nor is he stumped by the concertos’ familiarity. Every landmark phrase or interjection pops up freshly felt, as though newly composed. And he’s never led into the superficial. In the third concerto’s arpeggiated exchanges with the orchestra, pianists who like to ooze charm lean to the skittish and flirty; Goode’s fingers are much more thoughtful, nudging us towards the work’s darker, submerged elements. He’s equally refreshing in the Fifth, a concerto easily entombed in imperial pomp and gilt. Here it prances and glitters with light.

The orchestra’s contribution is exceptional. Bland playing appears beyond Fischer’s troops: their East European colours are individual, their phrasing constantly alert, and their union with Goode total. Listen how soloist and orchestra handle each other in the Fourth Concerto’s battles and interruptions — possibly the cycle’s finest performance. Throughout, the recording is warm and natural. Buy with confidence."
The Times, 5 stars, May 2009

“Goode tends to divide critics: some see him carrying forward an “old master” tradition, others just don’t get the message. What cannot be denied is that the American pianist has lived a long time with this music, he understands its syntax and knows it repays endless exploration. That is the starting point for this landmark recording of the Beethoven concertos.

Every phrase has been intelligently probed, properly digested and allowed to take its place in the context of the whole. Goode makes the familiar sound unexpectedly fresh. He plays without mannerism, without stylistic quirks, without making anything sound predictable: spontaneity sits side by side with lightly worn virtuosity and quasi-improvisatory turns-of-phrase, all sensitively supported by the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Ivan Fischer.

If I single out the Fourth Concerto, it is for the way Goode marries its gravity and spirit, its classical roots and romantic aspirations, its emotional heart and pianistic bravura – an achievement I had thought no longer possible.”
The Financial Times, 5 stars, May 2009

“Richard Goode made his name with highly personal, introspective Beethoven playing, especially the 10 disc sonata set (1993). This is his first recording of all five concertos. His partnership with Ivan Fischer's Budapest Orchestra shows a mutuality that is both gripping and musically revealing. From the Mozartian early works to the grandeur of No 5 (‘Emperor’), Goode's artistry is lucid and assured. Fischer's fiery extroversion provides exciting contrast.”
The Observer, May 2009

“The superb Beethoven Sonata cycle… is now followed by a concerto cycle of comparable quality. Supported with panache by Fischer and his band, Goode brings his precise touch to these five works, letting the lyricism sing out while keeping the majestic architecture always clearly in view.”
The Independent, 5 stars, April 2009

“Goode’s eagerly anticipated take on Beethoven’s concertos certainly lives up to expectations. He plays as if he’s submitted each note to hours of careful cognition, yet sounds as spontaneous as a genius improviser. The fire-music intensity of the Budapest orchestra is a powerful cohort as he swaggers through the gypsy-toned finale of the Third and an imposing ‘Emperor’. His Fourth is boldly understated and intellectually probing – a highlight within a consistently exemplary set.”
Classic FM Magazine, 5 stars, February 2009

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