Hyperion must have been somewhat miffed with Naxos
when they issued their recording [see Rob Barnetts comparative review
below]. The competitive issue (well received here and in the wider press)
appeared within a couple of months of this disc and although having
a shorter playing time, had couplings of further concertante works by
This disc couples together the two Piano Concerti of
MacDowell. These are perhaps his best known works (apart from one or
two piano miniatures) and it is wonderful to get such good performances
recorded in very good modern sound.
All three discs currently available are good so unless
you are a completist collector any one of them would suit you well.
Seta Tanyel, not a frequent recording artist, particularly now that
the Collins label has folded, is possibly the best soloist and certainly
the Hyperion recording quality is marginally superior to the other two
though only marginally so. Donna Amato comes into and out of the catalogue
fairly regularly and was most recently on Olympia, not coupled with
any other work. At full price, this must now take a back seat, which
is a pity as the Amato performances are both first class.
The Naxos issue has the more lively performances but
the present issue seems to be better under control and more suavely
presented. The Second Suite for solo piano is an extended piece, lasting
23 minutes and is an extremely attractive addition to the catalogue.
It is a shame that there are now three versions of
these concerti in the catalogue when there is much else written by this
composer still left to record. However, it is a competitive market,
and I suppose that we must expect that on occasions this type of duplication
The pity is that every once in while this conflict
can occur. This time there is not the usual situation - one clear winner.
Since the decision processes involved in choosing a disc are complex,
one other factor can be taken into account. The current issue is Volume
25 in Hyperion's The Romantic Piano Concerto. If you have been collecting
these issues you know what you will do.
So what about Seta Tanyel's performances. She has a
clear forthright style which suits this composer very well. The MacDowell
Concerti are not American in feeling although they found their way into
the Naxos American Music Series. They both sound very European in character
and this is because MacDowell was European trained and spent his time
writing music which did not have any ethnic feeling about it. In her
previous recordings, Seta Tanyel has concentrated upon composers such
as Chopin, Scharwenka and Moszkowski so she is expert in the right era.
Both concerti are in traditional form with the first
concerto in three movements in the fast - slow - fast format. The second
concerto is slightly different with the slow movement being included
as part of the last movement, the second being a brief scherzo. Buy
it and enjoy.
See also review by Rob Barnett