Hyperion's 41st instalment of their outstanding 'Romantic Piano Concerto' series is dedicated to a composer who nowadays rarely raises an eyebrow but in his time, Friedrich Kalkbrenner (1785-1849) was much admired, particularly for his playing. Unfortunately he had a very sour disposition and his despicable behaviour towards his fellow musicians very often landed him in big trouble which in turn affected his musical career.
Strangely enough, Chopin fell briefly under his influence but his piano works, although full of good tunes and virtuosic passages, do not compare with those of the Polish genius.
This issue includes a première recording of the Fourth Concerto, which together with the First presents a brilliant overview of a composer whose music is very well crafted and gives scope to much fun and enjoyment.
Howard Shelley is a persuasive advocate, who apart from reconstructing the Fourth with Philip Littlemore, performs these pieces with a dazzling wit and style making Kalkbrenner sound even more spectacular than he really is. I have a notion that Shelley's bravura might have unsettled even the composer himself, particularly in the Fourth's finale where the soloist's effortless command of the music is absolutely stunning. Amazingly, Shelley is able to conduct as well as play these concertos with the Tasmanian players wonderfully supportive. This is a disc to satisfy those who collect curios.
Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech