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
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
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.