Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Piano Concerto in G minor (1878) 37.34
Piano Concerto in A flat (1876) 31.55
Jorge Bolet (piano - Sgambati) Adrian Ruiz (piano - Rheinberger) Nürnberg SO/Ainslee Cox (Sgambati); Zsolt Deáky (Rheinberger)
first issued on LP 1972 GENESIS GCD 111 [61.41]

Genesis did well to secure a pianist of Bolet's standing and temperament long before Decca-London took him under its wing. He gives the Sgambati a fiery following wind. Sgambati is attracting more recordings and both Dynamic and ASV are engaged with his chamber music. I await recordings of his two symphonies with avid interest.

The Concerto resonates on the same spiritual wavelength as the Tchaikovsky and Schumann concertos and slightly more obscurely with the decorative delights of the five Saint-Saens and Palmgren works. After an impetuous stormy first movement (almost as long as the whole Berwald concerto), with some hoarse defiance from the brass section, the Romanza is touching and emphatic - replete with many refreshing instrumental details and with ideas of enlivening originality. Think in terms of the middle movements of Beethoven 5 and Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto. The finale is boisterous and if it falls victim to easy bombast is pretty effective in a way similar to the counterpart movement in Stanford's much later second piano concerto. It too is not without fresh poetry as in the piano part at 7.40. The orchestral contribution is a tad throatily undernourished, distant in the strings, unconfident in the woodwind - but nothing to unduly hinder the pleasure of discovery.

Name a single Lichtensteiner composer? Rheinberger is your man. He was less associated with the Principality largely because his fame as a teacher and musician centred on Munich. His half hour concerto parallels the Schumann concerto in its sentiment and pearly ebullience. If it does not have the heavenly inevitability of the Schumann but it abounds in beautiful moments and in sentiment. This is not one of those obscure thin-intellect glitter-vehicles to which nineteenth century re-animative musical archaeology is prone. The strings sound more impressive than in the Sgambati especially in silky calms of the middle movement which, after its Macdowell-accented opening, becomes almost Russian exuding a yearning which is also in the bones of the demonstrative finale.

The disc repays with a rich musical experience - varied and generous combining the contents of two Genesis LPs.

Good notes by Bea Friedland and David Dubal respectively.

We should salute Robert Commagère's excellent work and remind ourselves that these recordings (usually of splendid quality) were made at the excitingly risky cutting edge of discovery at a time when this repertoire was deeply unfashionable.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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