In 1944 the soloist in West Australian Symphony Orchestra’s first performance of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto was David Helfgott’s teacher, Alice Carrard. Fast forward 75 years to a wet winter’s night in Perth, and the same orchestra is accompanying Spanish pianist Javier Perianes in the same work. Nothing old, cold or wet about this performance, though, with Perianes and conductor Simone Young bringing a balance of Spanish passion and Viennese elegance to this much-loved staple of the piano concerto repertoire.

Javier Perianes Javier Perianes

The strings’ hushed reply to Perianes’ gentle opening in the Allegro Moderatoset the tone of this account right away, building expectation rather than tension. Perianes’ later glittering passagework and intervallic and chordal finesse, showcased especially in an exciting cadenza, created overlapping frameworks from which Young and WASO were able to extrapolate an extraordinarily refined orchestral sound. The Andante con moto, with its stark, attenuated contrasts between piano and strings, allowed just the right dissipation of energy before, in the Rondo, Perianes galloped across the dramatic soundscape Young cultivated with a breathless vigour and precision. Perianes’ thrilling encore, appropriately enough, was Spanish: Manuel de Falla’s piano arrangement of his own...

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