This is an additional volume to complement the VoxBox series on Piano Concertos
of some the performing virtuoso-playing composers of the Romantic tradition.
Many of the VoxBox series are the only versions of these recorded works.
To many, Clementi is remembered for the 'Clementi' piano, and his
easy-piece Italian Sonatinas which pupils of the piano have often come across.
This fact, and the amazing speed with which he churned out new pieces, caused
his skills as a composer to be somewhat overlooked and much of his skilfully
composed music is today largely forgotten.
One of these works is his Concerto in C Major, a concerto structurally
similar to late Mozart concertos. This is a lovely piece with bustling
1st and 3rd movements (Allegro con spirito &
Presto) which encompass an elegant middle lyrical movement (Adagio
e cantabile), which is worthy of serious study by students of piano music.
The music was lost, then rediscovered in Vienna in the 1960s.
Although Field came from a musical family in Dublin, he ended up living
in Russia. Following a London concert début when twelve he became
apprenticed to Clementi who used his talents to demonstrate pianos at his
London showroom. Field received free lessons (to make up for a small
wage) from this virtuoso businessman; then learnt composition and was later
able to develop his writing skills. Clementi took him on a continental tour,
which ended up in St Petersburg. He composed his Concerto No.2 in A-flat
Major in time for a concert he gave there in 1808. The piece displays
an impressive knowledge of music, surprisingly far greater than his tutor
Clementi; he anticipates the style of Chopin, which was yet to come. The
movements, a truly romantic Allegro moderato, supported by a strong
flowing Haydnesque theme; a dreamy Poco adagio; and a cheery Mozartian
Allegro moderato innocente provides a work of inspired brilliance
and charm. Why was this piece ever lost, one wonders? Pianist, Kyriakou fully
captures the engaging spirit of the work
It is not surprising that Hummel's compositions sound familiarly like
Mozart, for he was taught by the master. At the age of seven Mozart witnessed
the boy's ability at the piano and offered free lessons. When nine Hummel
gave his first concert. During his day he was the most formidable virtuoso
of Europe, rivalling even Beethoven, Clementi and Field.
The Concertino in G Major (written around 1815) is a bright work which,
as might be expected, follows the classical models of Mozart and Beethoven.
Yet his style is distinctly his. In the composition, Hummel has provided
an elegant and fluent concerto conveying good orchestral colour. The movements
- Allegro moderato, Andante grazioso and an energetic final
Rondo, provide plenty opportunity for piano virtuosity to display
a soloist's talent and Galling rises with confidence to the occasion.
Cramer is another forgotten composer and pianist, better known for
the music-publishing house he started; still flourishing in London today.
Beethoven had great regard for him as a virtuoso composer. His father and
grandfather were both good orchestral violinists.
Having Clementi as his teacher was fortunate for he was touring the continent
by the age of 17. His business interests started by the age of 30 and he
published several Beethoven works in England after 1815. His output for the
piano was high and to this he added chamber music and seven concertos. The
present recording of his No. 5 is probably the first recording of any of
his major works. The title page carries a note stating that the concerto
was written for the "PianoForte as Newly Constructed by Clementi &
Co. with Additional Keys up to F". The characteristics of the piano heard
on this recording suggest that a Clementi piano was not used: the background
booklet make no reference to this.
The style of his Piano Concerto No. 5 is generally light, with an
opening Allegro maestoso starting with a long orchestral introduction
to set the mood of the movement before the piano joins in. (It is dramatic
and not dissimilar from some of the C Minor concertos of Mozart and Beethoven.)
This is followed by a pastoral and songlike Largetto using flutes
and horns effectively in a charming nocturne. A Rondo a l'hongroise,
more like a scherzo, brightens the piece considerably. The interpretation
by Cao seems to lack a certain vitality however, and more colour might have
been provided by use of stronger dynamics.
Like Clementi, Czerny is remembered for his pupil exercises and little
else. He was an excellent composer, however, who did not start composing
until 27. Though much of his work was hardly inspired, his output was vast
with opus numbers nearing one thousand. Amongst the mass of ordinary material
were gems and this Divertissement is one of them. He was a pupil of Beethoven
and teacher of Liszt, incidentally.
The title, Divertissement de Concert, gives away its French connection.
Indeed, the work could have been written by Chopin for a French ballet. This
virtuoso piece has an orchestral introduction to a piano theme, which is
then followed by seven variations. The variations are quite beautiful and
as the notes say " the right hand flows over the notes like quicksilver".
The recording is sparkling, and soloist Ponti superb.
Ries, born in Bonn, was surrounded by music at home and learnt the
piano, cello and violin. He travelled and later was taken under the wing
of Beethoven whilst in Vienna. As a benefactor, Beethoven took him for lessons,
arranged for him to study composition and even introduced him to nobility.
An unfortunate quarrel with Beethoven over a misunderstanding eventually
brought him to England in 1813. Here he married, rose to prosperity composed
fluently and became a famous performer.
Ries's Concerto in C-sharp Minor (his third) was dedicated to Clementi.
Its style reveals the emotions of a man who 'thinks through his fingers'.
The first movement, (Allegro maestoso) echoes Beethoven in the contrast
shown by a strong militancy of the first subject and flowing tranquillity
of the second. The second movement, (Largetto) opens with passages
of languid introspectiveness, which strengthens to passages of purposeful
assertiveness. The final rondo (Allegretto), launched by a sort of
motto figure of pulsing horns is full of sprightly ripples, bouncy rhythm
The venue of this recording suits the soloist, but not the orchestra where
forte passages of the strings are thin. The acoustics are unusually dry and
boxy for 1972 when the piece was recorded.
All soloists play with skill and dexterity and the five orchestras play
competently under caring conductors.
This VoxBox set contains great rarities. The compilation has been cleverly
formulated to provide continuity to the listener in giving an opportunity
to study changing styles between teacher and taught. It makes a valuable
contribution to mapping the story of the development of music in the early
19th Century. The notes tell a clear story and give useful historical
THE VOX SERIES OF ROMANTIC PIANO CONCERTOS
THE VOX SERIES OF ROMANTIC PIANO CONCERTOS
The links below are to Amazon.com where the 2CD sets retail at around $10
Some reviews may be found here
THE ROMANTIC PIANO CONCERTO, Vol. 1
Henselt: Concerto in F Minor, Op. 16; Hiller: Konzertstück,
Op. 113; Chopin: Allegro de concert in A Major, Op. 46;
Kalkbrenner: Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 61; Hummel: Piano
Concerto, Op. 110 "Les Adieux"
Michael Ponti, Jerome Rose, Hans Kann, pianists
Philharmonia Hungarica, Othmar Maga; Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg, Pierre
Cao; Berlin Symphony, Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach; Hamburg Symphony, Heribert
THE ROMANTIC PIANO CONCERTO Vol. 2
Moscheles: Concerto in G Minor, Op. 58; Hiller: Concerto in F-sharp
Minor, Op. 69; Litolff: Concerto Sinfonique in E-flat Major, Op. 45;
Reinecke: Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 72; Mendelssohn:
Capriccio brilliant for Piano & Orchestra, Op. 22; Rheinberger:
Piano Concerto, Op. 94
Michael Ponti, Piano
Philharmonia Hungarica, Othmar Maga; Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg, Louis
de Froment & Pierre Cao; Berlin Symphony, Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach.
THE ROMANTIC PIANO CONCERTO, Vol. 3
Moszkowski: Concerto in E Major, Op. 59; Scharwenka: Concerto
in C Minor, Op. 56; Rubinstein: Concerto No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 70;
Thalberg: Concerto in F Minor, Op. 5
Michael Ponti, Piano
Philharmonia Hungarica, Hans Richard Stracke & Othmar Maga; Hamburg Symphony,
Richard Kapp; Westphalian Symphony Orchestra, Richard Kapp
THE ROMANTIC PIANO CONCERTO, Vol. 4
Raff: Concerto in C, Op. 185; Mosonyi: Piano Concerto;
Stavenhagen: Concerto, Op. 4; Liszt: Malediction;
D'Albert: Concerto No. 2 in E, Op. 12: Bronsart: Concerto in
F-sharp, Op. 10
Michael Ponti, Jerome Rose & Roland Keller, pianists
Hamburg Symphony; Richard Kapp, conductor; Southwest German Chamber Orchestra,
Pforzheim; Paul Angerer, conductor; Westphalian Symphony Orchestra; Richard
THE ROMANTIC PIANO CONCERTO, Vol. 5
Medtner: Concerto No. 3, Op. 60; Balakirev: Concerto in E-flat;
Liapunov: Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes, Op. 28; Sinding: Concerto
in D-flat; Goetz: Concerto in B-flat, Op. 18
Michael Ponti & Roland Keller, pianists
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg; Pierre Cao, conductor; Westphalian Symphony
Orchestra; Siegfried Landau, conductor; Berlin Symphony Orchestra; Jörg
THE ROMANTIC PIANO CONCERTO, Vol. 6
Macdowell: Concerto No. 2 in D, Op. 23; Beach: Concerto, Op. 45;
Gershwin: Concerto in F; Barber: Concerto Op. 38
Eugene List, Mary-Louise Boehm & Abbott Ruskin, pianists
Westphalian Symphony Orchestra; Siegfried Landau, conductor; Berlin Symphony
Orchestra; Samuel Adler, conductor; M.I.T. Symphony Orchestra; David Epstein,
THE ROMANTIC PIANO CONCERTO, Vol. 7
Weber: Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 11; Concerto No. 2 in E-flat Major,
Op. 32; Konzertstück, Op. 42; Volkmann: Konzertstück, Op.
42; Berwald: Concerto No. 1 in D Major; Alkan: Concerto da camera
No. 2 in C-sharp Minor; Schumann: Introduction and Allegro appassionata
in G Major, Op. 92; Raff: "Ode to Spring," Op. 76; Liszt: Totentanz
for Piano and Orchestra
Michael Ponti, Roland Keller & Jerome Rose, pianists
Berlin Symphony Orchestra; Siegfried Köhler & Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach,
conductors; Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg; Pierre Cao & Louis de Froment,
conductors; Southwest German Chamber Orchestra, Pforzheim; Paul Angerer,
conductor; Hamburg Symphony; Richard Kapp, conductor