This is the second of two discs of the Litolff Concertos
Symphoniques - of which there are five. The first has been lost. The
other two are on Hyperion CDA66889.
I have nothing but praise for the kindly fire that
the Bournemouth players and Donohoe pour into these works. The Presto
of the Third Concerto and for that matter the allegro
of the Fifth are kin to the famous scherzo from the Second Concerto.
The writing can be seen as a precursor to that of Saint-Saëns.
Scorching and gutsy playing from the BBC Scottish makes these so
much more than dutiful studio revivals. Donohoe is in brilliant form
and a sampling of the opening of the allegro vivace from Number
3 will go to prove this. Marred by a moment or two of miscalculated
braggadocio in the vivace the work is otherwise well up to standard
- occasionally suggestive of Beethoven's Emperor in its more
Palladian moments. The Fifth Concerto strides and storms along
but also has episodes of great Brahmsian nobility as at 2.20 of the
largo. Once again there are various reminiscences of the Brahms
of the Second Concerto and the Beethoven of The Emperor - especially
in the Allegro.
I note, in passing, that Liszt greatly admired the
Litolff concertos and dedicated his own First Piano Concerto to Litolff.
Litolff also wrote operas as well as two acclaimed concert overtures:
Maximilian Robespierre and Die Girondisten. Jeremy Dibble's
liner notes are well up to Hyperionís reliably predictable encyclopedic
I do not recall an earlier recording of the Third Concerto.
In any event Hyperion claim first recording status only for the Fifth
Concerto Symphonique No. 2
Concerto Symphonique No. 4
Peter Donohoe (piano), Bournemouth SO/Andrew Litton
HYPERION CDA 66889 [65.58]
Romantic Piano Concerto Series