Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 1 in C-Major, Op. 15

by Max Derrickson

Ludwig van Beethoven
I. Allegro con brio
II. Largo
III. Rondo – Allegro scherzando


[. . .] Because of the dogged rivalry of so many other gifted pianists that came to Vienna seeking fame and fortune, Beethoven wrote three piano concertos in quick succession, but withheld their publication in order to keep them secret from those very rivals.  So it is that Piano Concerto No. 1 was actually competed after his No. 2, but was published slightly afterwards; none of the first three were actually published until 1801.  All the same, the first three concertos, especially 1 and 2, are fresh and ebullient works of a young, brilliant and happy Beethoven.

[. . .]

There is a distinct joie de vivre in this Concerto that is particularly refreshing from the pen of Beethoven.  And there is no lack of pianistic virtuosity, either, for this was a work to show off Beethoven’s passionate prowess on the keyboard.  But within the concerto there is good deal of genius to go along with all the cheer: the cadenza in the first movement is an astonishing thing of complex harmonies and morphing themes, the Largo middle movement captures something ethereal and timeless, and the Finale, for all its play, throws in some truly inventive turns mixed with several deeply soulful moments.