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Complementing her Beethoven sonata cycle on Pentatone, Mari Kodama now presents the Beethoven concertos alongside the Rondo Wo0 6, Eroica Variations and Triple Concerto.

She is certainly a musical player: the Rondo is far more charming and eloquent than Boris Giltburg’s. Poise is her keyword, and in Nagano she has a comrade-in-arms. While Kodama’s musicality is a natural fit for the Fourth Concerto, the success of her Emperor, in a performance of utmost integrity and warmth, is perhaps surprising. There is strength to Kodama’s finale, bathed in bright sunshine.

The First Concerto offers true orchestral lightness; in response, Kodama is magnificently crisp, while the Largo is warm and glowing. Similar traits inform No 2, with the finale particularly alive to period style.

Kodama understands that the Third Concerto represents a departure in scale, yet maintains the characteristic detailing of this set, descents neatly dovetailing, the cadenza poised. The Largo exudes gentle loveliness, while the wind solos project a sense of restrained drama.

Kodama is certainly truer to the spirit of the Fourth than say, Lisiecki, in a performance that never feels rushed, the finale light as air; her Emperor has a controlled resplendence. But it is in the fillers that Kodama shines, offering a magical Concerto No 0 (with improvised cadenza in consultation with Martin Galling). In the Hungarian-tinged finale Kodama is more sensitive than Vetter. Her Eroica Variations are considered and the Triple Concerto joyous. The sound is full dynamic, so pianissimi really are quiet (try the opening of the Triple Concerto). Superb.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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