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At her best, as on this 1957 studio recording of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto with the Bavarian State Orchestra and Ferenc Fricsay, Hungarian pianist Annie Fischer (1914-1995) was a captivating artist. Fischer displayed plenty of verve and paprika in her playing. She and her compatriot Fricsay audibly share a poetic imagination and mutual complicity in the Beethoven Third, which itself contains emotions of controlled, quasi-hysteric intensity.

The Beethoven Triple Concerto is again conducted by Fricsay, this time leading the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. Sometimes the Triple Concerto has been pointlessly slated, as by a critic for The Guardian who, in 2009, termed it ‘arguably the least successful of any of Beethoven’s mature concertos’. Yet pianists including Martha Argerich, Claudio Arrau, Eugene Istomin, Joseph Kalichstein, Hephzibah Menuhin, Lev Oborin, Menahem Pressler, Sviatoslav Richter, Rudolf Serkin, Howard Shelley, Lars Vogt and Christian Zacharias have chosen to record it, disregarding any such glib value judgments. In 1960, the Hungarian Géza Anda (1921-1976) joined their number, expressing both the work’s sombre gravity and its dancing high spirits.

CD purchasers can also download two bonus tracks: Fischer’s charming 1959 renditions of two Mozart Concert Rondos. A booklet note by reissue producer Andrew Rose accurately praises these recordings as ‘essentially very well made’, adding that ‘these new transfers have, with XR remastering, built on very fine originals with a clean, clear and full sound that in both cases might have been recorded just last week, rather than more than 50 years ago.’

BENJAMIN IVRY Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Piano International, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing