You can get tired of nearly anything after a while. The first time I realised how great Beethoven was, I was a 4th year student medic. Back then access was limited and unashamedly geeky by today’s rules – taping off Radio 3, going to the local library, a limited selection of LP’s in the shops, mainly ‘Classics for Pleasure’. I still have those tapes though.
The first time I heard Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto (his 5th piano concerto), it was a terrific performance – taped naturally – by Julius Katchen, with Piero Gamba and the LSO (thank you, You Tube). I listened to it a lot. Really, a lot.
These days however, there are so many recordings out there, that you can get jaded easily – even with Beethoven. If I hear the Emperor once every year or so, that’s fine. The risk is he ends up as backround music, which in its own way would be a small disaster (not so for most Mozart, by contrast).
Which is why it’s a real thrill when you rediscover what made you love it in the first place.
One of the advantages of having a really old car is that it’s still got a cassette player, and you can pick tapes up very cheaply (see pic).
Well, Maurizio Pollini with Eugen Jochum in the first piano concerto (actually the second by date of composition) is the real thing. I have rarely heard music played with such rampant vigour, discipline and panache, and that includes Dominance and Submission.
It’s still available through this reissue, a stonewall bargain, with the recording quality that made Deutsche Grammophon so great.
Beethoven/Pollini/Jochum – look on their works ye mighty, and despair.