As the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth approaches, and following a much-admired version of the Diabelli Variations (Alpha 386 – Gramophone Editor’s Choice), Martin Helmchen has decided to record his complete piano concertos in the company of musical partners with whom he has a special affinity, Andrew Manze and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. They devote this first volume to the Concertos nos. 2 and 5, giving lovingly polished performances of these two masterpieces of the piano repertory.
Composed even before Concerto ‘no. 1’, the ‘Second’ Concerto was premiered in Vienna in 1795, when Beethoven was only twenty-five years old, but underwent several revisions before being published in its final version in 1801. Concerto no. 5 is the last that Beethoven composed. Though completed in 1808, it was not premiered until 1811. Beethoven normally gave the first performance of his concertos himself, but this time his increasing deafness meant he was unable to do so.