Pretty much simultaneously two recordings of the Mendelssohn piano concertos were released, by Jan Lisiecki and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, as reviewed by me recently, and another one by Ronald Brautigam with the Kölner Akademie under Michael Alexander Willens.
So, which one should you get?
Mendelssohn Piano Concertos – Ronald Brautigam – Michael Alexander Willens – Die Kölner Akademie (BIS 2018)
Well, it’s not an easy choice.
I won’t do a full review here, as fellow music blogger Konsgaard has already done an excellent job here.
Let me focus more on the differences to Jan Lisiecki. The obvious one is the choice of instruments, Brautigam plays on his typical reconstructed Fortepiano, a Pleyel this time, and the Kölner Akademie clearly plays on historical instruments.
Overall, this gives a rougher, more unpolished, wilder sound than the more polished sound of Lisiecki’s modern Steinway.
Honestly, it’s very hard to choose. Both in their own way are excellent. I probably have a slight preference for Lisiecki and the Orpheus, the sound is just SOOO beautiful.
For Lisiecki, he intersperses some of the beautiful solo piano pieces. Brautigam and Willens instead go for some other lesser know pieces of the piano and concerto repertoire, the Rondo brilliant, the Capriccio brilliant, and the Serenade and Allegro giojoso. None of these works are particularly memorable individually, but taken together they really complement the piano concertos well, and are nice discoveries.
So back to the question, which one to choose? Well, while
my slight preference goes to Lisiecki, in the days of streaming, just check out both and make up your own mind. You won’t regret either of the two.
My rating: 4 stars
You can find it here (eclassical).
UPDATE March 30, 2019: Classica likes this a lot as well giving it 5 stars.