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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    


John FIELD (1782-1837)
Piano concertos Nos. 5 and 6
Benjamin Frith, piano
Northern Sinfonia/David Haslam;
Recorded in the Jubilee Theatre, Nicholas Hospital, Newcastle, UK, January 1997
NAXOS 8.554221 [57.22]


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Nowadays it is difficult to regard Field as a ground-breaking composer. His style seems to embody the salient qualities of early nineteenth century piano music graceful, tuneful and virtuosic and points directly towards Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn and other pianist-composers of that period; yet, as a performer and composer, Field’s approach to the piano contrasted with the audience-rousers fashionable in the concert halls of his day. The delicate sensitivity of his seventeen Nocturnes undoubtedly influenced Chopin, and his fame as a touring recitalist did much to change the barnstorming image of the travelling virtuoso.

These two concertos have all the fragrance and filigree detail of the five that Field wrote during his brief creative life, and gain in beauty through Benjamin Frith’s excellent playing. Elaborate though much of the piano writing is, it never declines into mere showmanship or shallow prettiness. Every note counts. Indeed, it is the detail and care that both orchestra and soloist lavish on their respective roles that make this disc a prime choice for connoisseurs. The rapport between soloist and orchestra is effortlessly maintained throughout. Skilful phrasing and unfailing technical brilliance, together with a sensitively balanced recording, make this a most impressive disk.

Roy D. Brewer


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