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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



CD REVIEW
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John FIELD (1782-1837)
The Piano Concertos
CD 1
Concerto No. 1 in E flat major (1810) [20:20]
Concerto No. 2 in A flat major (1811) [35:23]
CD 2
Concerto No. 5, 'L'Incendie par 1'orage' in C major (1815) [27:32]
Concerto No. 3 in E flat major (1810) [32:32]
CD 3
Concerto No. 6 in C major (1819) [31:23]
Concerto No. 4 in E flat major (1814) [34:43]
CD 4
Concerto No. 7 in C major (1822) [29:05]
Divertissement No. 1 in E major (1810-16) [5.52]
Rondeau in A flat major (1810-16) [7.31]
Nocturne No. 16 in F major (1810-16) [5.18]
Quintette in A flat major (1810-16) [11.07]
Divertissement No. 2 in A major (1810-16) [9:17]
Pastorale. Andante (1810-16) [5.47]
Rondo. Allegro moderate (1810-16) [3.28]
Miceal O'Rourke (piano)
London Mozart Players/Matthias Bamert
David Juritz (violin); Jennifer Godson (violin); Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola); Julia Desbruslais (cello) (Quintette)
rec. Blackheath Concert Halls, 12-13 July 1994, 20 November, 1 December 1995, 20-21 March 1996, 25-26 September 1996. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10468(4)X [4 CDs: 55:45 + 60:06 + 65:08 + 68:14]
Experience Classicsonline

This is a superb set of piano concertos by John Field. Field was born in Dublin, although his family moved to London when he was 10. By then he was already showing great talent as a pianist. He studied with the highly-esteemed composer, teacher and publisher, Clementi.
 
This four-disc set from Chandos opens with Field’s first and second concertos. His first concerto was written at a very early age, and yet is already characterful and original – an utterly charming, and hugely impressive work. The second piano concerto was his most popular, with its romantic – and typically long - first movement, and its playful and lively finale. Schumann himself described it as “divinely beautiful”, and one readily concurs.
 
The second disc opens with the fifth concerto – The Blazing Storm. Field’s contemporary, Steibelt had written a very successful piano concerto entitled The Storm - a little bit of one-upmanship going on here, possibly! As one might suspect, this is a very dramatic work. It is also fairly progressive, with its use of exotic percussion, such as bells and the tam-tam. This disc also contains the well-crafted third concerto, which Field dedicated to Clementi.
 
Disc three features concertos numbers six – with its effervescent finale - and four. The seventh concerto, which took Field ten years to complete, starts the final disc. This concerto was a huge success in his time – Chopin and Liszt were in the audience at premiere. It is unusual in that it only has two movements – a dramatic and atmospheric first movement, and a playful second movement that is here played with a wonderful delicacy. The rest of the last disc is given over to Field’s music for piano and strings - Field played the viola in chamber groups. The delightful Divertissement No. 1 is better known in its version for piano called Twelve O’clock Rondo - on account of the 12 ‘chimes’ at the end. Also included are the Rondeau in A flat, Nocturne No. 16 - of which there is also a solo piano version - the polished Quintet, and the Divertissement No. 2 whose first movement Andante Pastorale became the seventh Nocturne.
 
This set shows Field – a musician who had a major influence on the development of the virtuoso pianist - to be a composer of the very highest quality – his music is measured, elegant, interesting and extremely well-written. He has a wonderful ability to combine dreamy romanticism with classical refinement and the occasional hint at neo-baroque. His piano parts – full of verve and panache – are idiosyncratic and bear surprisingly little resemblance to Mozart or early Beethoven, the bravura being more similar to that in later composers. Nor is he as mannered or predictable as many of his contemporaries – one is never quite sure what he’s going to do next.
 
The performances are also outstanding. The London Mozart Players, under the assured direction of Bamert, and soloist O’Rourke, show a great affinity for this wonderful music, and bring out a glorious sense of joy in lively and exciting performances.
 
Em Marshall
 

 


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