Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

JOHN FIELD (1782-1837) Piano Concertos Nos 2 (1815) and 3 (1815)   Andreas Staier (fortepiano) Concerto Köln/David Stern TELDEC 3984 21475 2 [61.77]

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John Field has often enough been bracketed with Chopin but his natural confrères are Clementi, Moscheles, and Beethoven with a particular stylistic debt to Beethoven. This is not the Ludwig of the beetling brows but Ludwig the poet-wanderer. Field (born in Dublin and died in Moscow from alcoholism and cancer) was a master of limpid melody and warmly Beethovenian hustle-bustle.

His music shines in the company of David Stern's Concerto Köln and the obviously sensitive artistry of Andreas Staier. What rather bedevils this album is its main distinguishing feature. Staier plays a John Broadwood fortepiano. The instrument dates from circa 1802. Whatever claims it may have to authenticity the bony dry shallowness of the keyboard sound does not complement the music. This beggar's banquet is strangely at odds with the two works which draw consciously or otherwise on the charm of the Beethoven piano concertos. I think especially of the middle movement of No. 5 and the whole of numbers 3 and 4.

If I cannot wax enthusiastic about this disc please put this down to my resistance to the fortepiano (or this one in particular) the artistry of Staier and everyone else involved is never in doubt.

The third concerto was written without a slow movement. Here the Nocturne No. 2 in C minor is interpolated and serves as a still small voice between the Allegro Moderato and the Tempo di Polacca finale. O'Conor in a previous disc used Nocturne no. 5 for a similar purpose.

For my part I would rather look in the direction of the warmer climes of Miceál O'Rourke's Chandos cycle of the complete seven concertos or John O'Conor's now difficult to track down Onyx set of all of the concertos. Telarc also had John O'Conor plus the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Sir Charles Mackerras on CD80370 in a well received disc (identically coupled to the present one) using a full concert grand (the norm for Field concerto recordings).

The present disc is very well packaged and annotated and is star-rated as a matter of the reviewer's personal preference rather than any contentious criticism of the performances or recordings.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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