One potential question mark with Paul Lewis's cycle of the Beethoven piano concerti, a major feature of this year's BBC Proms, was how consistent they would be, spread as they are between four orchestras and conductors. Thursday's second instalment suggests that there is nothing whatsoever to be concerned about, especially since, prior to the Proms, Andris Nelsons was the only one of the four with whom Lewis had yet to work. You would not have known it from listening and watching.
Together with the CBSO, he delivered a gentle and very well played orchestral opening to the second (or first, chronologically speaking) concerto. Lewis sparkled from his first entry; also present was his signature clarity and a nice degree of playfulness. Particularly memorable was his playing of the first movement cadenza which was well chosen. There was an excellent rapport between soloist and conductor, if perhaps not quite so much as exists with Bělohlávek (but then they have collaborated intensively for the recordings). It was a fairly straight laced reading but both beautiful and compelling. Nelsons proved a sensitive accompanist while also showing a good feel for Beethoven, finding things he wanted to underscore in a way that occasionally called to mind Mackerras. They rounded it off with a wonderfully punchy finale filled with lots of excitement, such that it was difficult to sit still while listening (fortunately I was listening in my living room so that wasn't a problem). Listening to the way they played it, I wondered why I always think of it as the poor cousin amongst the concerti.