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   Piano Concertos

Bohemian Piano Concertos II

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Oehms OC588

Leopold Jan Antonín Koželuch
(1747-1818)

Piano Concerto #1 in F Major, Op. 12 (P IV:1)
Piano Concerto #4 in A Major, Op. 16 (P IV:4)
Piano Concerto #5 in E Flat Major, Op. 15 (P IV:5)

Tomas Dratva, piano
Slovak Sinfonietta Žilina/Oliver von Dohnányi
Oehms OC588 79:56

The Bohemian composer Koželuch was Wolfgang Mozart's successor as chamber music composer to the Austrian Emperor, and thus contributed to the flourishing of Viennese Classicism. As evidenced by these three lovely works, his 22 piano concertos are full of elegance and refinement, characteristics that helped make his music popular throughout Europe.

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[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Stanford Concertos

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Lyrita SRCD321

Charles Villiers Stanford
(1852-1924)

Cello Concerto in D minor (1879-80)
Piano Concerto #3 in E Flat Major, Op. 171 (1919)

Alexander Baillie, cello
Malcolm Binns, piano
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
Lyrita SRCD321 65:23

The Irish composer Stanford had considerable influence on the course of music in England. These concertos are among his least-known works. The cello concerto is quite lush and rhapsodic while the piano concerto sounds more French, inviting comparison with the Saint-Saëns concertos. The first two piano concertos are available from Hyperion (CDA66820) and Chandos (CHAN8736).

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Ecstatic Lyricism

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CPO 777287-2

Gian Francesco Malipiero
(1882-1973)

Variazioni senza tema (1923)
Piano Concerto #1 (1934)
Piano Concerto #2 (1937)
Piano Concerto #3 (1948)
Piano Concerto #4 (1950)
Piano Concerto #5 (1958)
Piano Concerto #6 (1964)

Sandro Ivo Bartoli, piano
Saarbr├╝cken Radio Symphony Orchestra/Michele Carulli
CPO 777287-2 2SACDs

Malipiero was an extremely prolific composer amd perhaps the most individual Italian voice of his generation. His music is at times similar to that of his contemporaries such as Casella and Pizzetti, but a certain ecstatic lyricism gives his music an unmistakable appeal. The piano concertos, relatively conservative in style and all but unknown, attain at times a shimmering, virtuosic quality.

[ Available on Multichannel Hybrid SACD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

A New Means of Expression

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CPO 777041-2

Ernst Pepping
(1901-1981)

Symphony #1 (1939)
Symphony #2 (1942)
Symphony #3 (1944)
Piano Concerto (1950)

Volker Banfield, piano
North West German Philharmonic Orchestra/Werner Andreas Albert
CPO 777041-2 133:34

Whose music does Pepping's sound like? Difficult to say – occasionally Reger appears, sometimes Richard Strauss, at other times Hindemith. If the music of any of these composers appeals to you, it's likely that Pepping will, too.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Romantic Piano Concertos Vol. 37

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Hyperion CDA67511

Eduard Nápravník
(1839-1916)

Concerto Symphonique in A minor, Op. 27 (1877)
Fantaisie russe in B minor, Op. 39 (1881)

Felix Blumenfeld
(1863-1931)

Allegro de Concert in A Major, Op. 7 (1889)

Evgeny Soifertis, piano
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Titov
Hyperion CDA67511 57:42

After training in his homeland, the Czech Nápravník spent almost his entire career in Russia, where he made a name for himself as a pianist, organist and conductor. The Ukrainian Blumenfeld also spent his career in Russia. These examples of their work are immediately attractive with interesting melodic content and sparkling but not flashy piano writing. Anyone with a taste for Romantic piano writing will find much to enjoy.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by Nápravník: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com
   Sheet music by Blumenfeld: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com]

Master of Orchestral Texture

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Timpani 1C1125

Vincent d'Indy
(1851-1931)

Symphony #1 "Italian" in A Major (1870-72)
Concerto in E Flat Major for Piano, Flute, Cello & Strings, Op. 89 (1926)

Brigitte Engerer, piano
Magali Mosnier, flute
Marc Coppey, cello
Orchestre de Bretagne/Lionel Bringuier
Timpani 1C1125 63:44

These works, the first and last orchestral works d'Indy wrote, are in different ways, hommages. Although his main musical sympathies lay elsewhere, a sojourn in Italy inspired the young composer to write a Symphonie italienne using Rome, Florence, Venice and Naples as the basis for the four movements in which the influence and model of Mendelssohn's Italian symphony are inescapable. At one point, I'm reminded incongruously of Randall Thompson's third symphony!

The concerto at first evokes J.S. Bach and eventually becomes a sort of neo-classical concerto grosso. This rarely-recorded music helps to round out our knowledge of the composer who to many would perhaps be known only by his Symphony on a French Mountain Air (Symphonie sur un chant montagnard français).

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Musical Talent Cut Short

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Dabringhaus und Grimm MDG3350817-2

Norbert Burgmüller
(1810-1836)

Overture, Op. 5 (c. 1830)
Symphony #2 in D Major, Op. 11 (c. 1836)
Piano Concerto in F Sharp minor, Op. 1 (1829)

Leonard Hokanson, piano
Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra/Gernot Schmalfuss
Dabringhaus und Grimm MDG3350817-2 77:42

Burgmüller was the most talented of his family: his father and elder brother Friedrich were also composers. He suffered from an apparent lack of ambition and indifferent health, and is thought to have died of an epileptic seizure. His music was highly thought of by Mendelssohn and Schumann: these composers are evident influences, as is Schubert. The overture, which is fairly long for the period, was for an incomplete opera, and is quite dramatic. The piano concerto was in part a vehicle for establishing his reputation as a pianist and is reminiscent of Chopin and Hummel. The symphony has only three movements and was the composer's last work. Note that the label is known is some countries as either MD&G or Dabringhaus und Grimm.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

The Pre-eminent Pupil of Beethoven

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Signum SIGX78-00

Carl Czerny
(1791-1857)

Concerto in C Major for Piano 4-Hands, Op. 153
Symphony #2 in D Major, Op. 781

Liu Xiao Ming, Horst Göbel, piano
Frankfurt am Oder State Orchestra/Nikos Athinäos
Signum SIGX78-00 72:27

The prolific Viennese composer Czerny is best known for his studies, as generations of piano students will attest, but he wrote a great deal of music in different forms including the unusual concerto on this CD, and six symphonies.

The main influences on this music are Beethoven and Schubert with the occasional nod towards Weber. The music is tuneful, readily enjoyable and represents yet another pleasant musical byway. The German label should not be confused with the UK Signum label. Athinäos and his orchestra also recorded the first and fifth symphonies which share another Signum CD.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic
  Reissued on Christophorus Entrée CHE0140: Amazon - UK - Germany - France ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music PlusMusicnotes.com ]

British Piano Concerto & Symphony

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Naxos 8.570406

John Gardner
(b. 1917)

Overture: Midsummer Ale, Op. 73 (1965)
Piano Concerto #1 in B Flat, Op. 34 (1956-7) 1
Symphony #1 in D Minor, Op. 2 (1946-7)

1 Peter Donohoe, piano
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/David Lloyd-Jones
Naxos 8.570406 71:54

Gardner is yet another composer to have emerged from relative obscurity in recent years and this CD was a 90th birthday tribute in 2007. The compositions presented here, which work quite well as a concert, are in different styles. The breezy overture is succeeded by the piano concerto which has stylistic affinity with Britten's concerto. Although the CD is titled as one of Naxos' British Piano Concerto series, the main work is the symphony which runs about 41 minutes. Conceived during World War II, it is a dark work in the manner of Bax as in, for example, the slow movement of the first symphony or November Woods. There is much further information at the composer's website.

Read the Classical Net Review

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

On the Other Hand...

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Querstand VKJK0611

Franz Schmidt
(1874-1939)

Concertante Variations on a Theme of Beethoven for Piano Left Hand & Orchestra (1923)
Concerto in E Flat Major for Piano Left Hand & Orchestra (1934)

Carlo Grante, piano
Middle German Radio Symphony Orchestra/Fabio Luisi
Querstand VKJK0611 79:01

The Austrian-American pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in World War I, commissioned a number of works for piano left hand of which the best known are the Ravel concerto, Prokofiev's 4th piano concerto, and Britten's Diversions. The two works on this CD are far less known and are said to have been more to Wittgenstein's liking. The variations are on the little scherzo from the Spring Violin Sonata. The concerto runs about 48 minutes and contains what seems to be difficult writing for the piano. Both works are Romanticism writ large and are commended especially to those with a taste for the music of this period.

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[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]
Trumpet