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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    


Franz Xaver SCHARWENKA (1850-1924)
Piano Concerto No. 4 in F minor Op. 82 (1908)
Emil Von SAUER (1862-1924)

Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor (1885)
Stephen Hough (piano)
City of Birmingham SO/Lawrence Foster
rec. 18-19 Dec 1994, Dudley Town Hall, Warwickshire
The Romantic Piano Concerto series - Vol. No. 11
HYPERION CDA 66790 [69.41]


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Stephen Hough accords to these obscure war-horses a seriousness and dedication that transforms the exercise into a really rewarding musical experience. I had higher hopes of the Scharwenka but in fact the Sauer is a sheerly delightful piece with a touch or two of Chopin about it.

The Scharwenka is all stertorous fanfares, thunderous piano entries, Brahmsian élan and galloping figures redolent of Saint-Saëns' Second Piano Concerto. At 1.40 in the finale a stomping rhythmic figures paves the way for a rompety-tomping passage and a whiff or ten of the salon. It was premiered in Berlin on 31 October 1908 reputedly the finest of Scharwenka's four concertos.

The Sauer First Concerto was dedicated to the composer's esteemed master, Nicholas Rubinstein. This concerto is swooningly Tchaikovskian and heaven storming if lighter in the scherzo which resembles the famous Litolff tid-bit. There is a more reserved and rather lovely Cavatina followed by a graceful Rondo devoid of bluster. As a whole the Sauer displays very little that is blatantly barnstorming unlike the Scharwenka.

Typically excellent notes - this time from Steven Heliotes.

Rob Barnett

Hyperion Romantic Piano series


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