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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Robert FUCHS (1847-1927)
Piano Concerto in B flat minor Op. 27 (1891) [36.21]
Friedrich KIEL (1821-1885)

Piano Concerto in B flat major Op. 30 (1864) [27.13]
Martin Roscoe (piano)
BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins
rec 7-8 Dec 2001, City Hall, Glasgow
HYPERION CDA67354 [63.34]



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This is the thirty-first volume in Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series. Two three movement concertos are offered.

The Fuchs work was written when he was 33. One does not need Hartmut Wecker's notes to detect that Fuchs was a fervent Brahms disciple. Both the grand mien of the Brahms Second Piano Concerto and the craggy virtuosity and striking gestures of the First Concerto are to be heard. Parry's firebrand of a First Symphony also suggests itself. Fuchs has already caught the attention with a Thorofon CD of his violin sonatas (more to come) and the same label has buried in their back catalogue two more CDs including Fuchs' symphonies - works that look to be particularly rewarding.

If Fuchs drank deep at the Brahmsian wellspring Friedrich Kiel's single piano concerto echoes and re-echoes with the orchestral voice of Robert Schumann. The music blends the surreptitiously poetic with extrovert brilliance. Beethovenian pathos also makes an appearance especially in the adagio.

To some extent these two composers live on only because of their famous pupils. For Fuchs it was a roll-call that included Wolf, Schreker, Zemlinsky, Korngold and Sibelius. Kiel numbered amongst his pupils Stanford, Somervell, Bennett, Cowen, Richard Nordraak and Emil Sjögren. Less famous names in the Kiel honour roll include Victor von Herzfeld, Siegfried Ochs, Arnold Mendelssohn, Max Gulbins, Waldemar von Bausznern and Bernard Stavenhagen.

As Hartmut Wecker points out in his splendidly discursive notes, Kiel was killed in a traffic accident at the height of his fame. Fuchs however long outlived his master who had died in 1897. Fuchs’ Brahmsian brotherhood were left high and dry by the new wave represented by Mahler. When Fuchs died in 1927 just short of eighty he had long sunk into obscurity.

What we have here are two ripe and lively German romantic piano concertos despatched in true style by Roscoe and the BBC Scottish. I have visions that this whole series will one day be issued in a special package. By that time perhaps a new carrier will accommodate much of the series in a quarter of the shelf space. On reflection I would rather that the series continued indefinitely. Perhaps having reached the fiftieth volume it will continue as a series 2 for another 50 and feature concertos by Bortkiewicz (2 and 3), the second and third by Scharwenka, Gaze Cooper (determinedly old-fashioned and not a million miles away from Kiel and Fuchs), Roger Sacheverell Coke, the luxuriant Sorabji concertos as well as those by Stavenhagen, Dzerzhinsky (Russian populist romantic) and so many others.

A delight for romantic piano concerto fanciers.
Rob Barnett



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