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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Edward MACDOWELL (1860-1908)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 15 (1885)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23 (1890)
Second Modern Suite, Op.14 for solo piano (1883)
Seta Tanyel (piano)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
recorded 14 - 15/9/00, in the Caird Hall, Dundee (concerti), and 17/12/00 in Henry Wood Hall, London (solo) - DDD
HYPERION CDA67165 [77.10]


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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 the composer.

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 is inevitable.

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.

John Phillips

See also review by Rob Barnett

 


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