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Xaver SCHARWENKA (1850-1924)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor Op. 56 (1880) [40.33]
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C sharp minor Op. 80 (1898) [37.57]
Seta Tanyel (piano)
Radio Philharmonie, Hannover des NDR/Tadeusz Strugala
rec. Großer Sendesaal, Funkhaus Hannover des NDR, 1996
originally issued Collins Classics 14852
The Romantic Piano Concerto Vol. 33
HYPERION CDA67365 [78.51]

Polish-born, educated in Berlin, Scharwenka completed his First Piano Concerto in 1877. He went on to write three others.

The affirmative, storming first movement of the Second Concerto has a few moments of high romantic relaxation but otherwise plays like an optimistic cross between Schumann and Brahms. The central movement veers delicately between Chopin and Tchaikovsky. The finale is the most original of the three with romping vitality and a real Klezmer skirl. Tanyel plays it with a delightful rolling gait and relishes the return, at the end, of the theme from the opening of the work. Real chutzpah!

The Third Piano Concerto feels more symphonic than the Second. This sounds quite 'modern' and resolute of purpose. The ursine defiance is a quality I associate with the Second Piano Concertos of Brahms and Stanford. After a seriously-intentioned adagio the final allegro non troppo has a few moments of off-guard levity to link back with the filigree and thunder and lightning of the First and Second concertos. There are gracious zephyrs at play here too if you listen to the section at 5.50 (tr.6) where the music seems to have trodden the same fields as those evoked in Beethoven's Pastoral.

I have been calling for the release of this disc ever since Hyperion issued all the other Tanyel Collins/Scharwenka CDs. Its return to availability is to be welcomed.

These are good performances by soloist and orchestra and this is the place to start your Scharwenka collection.

Altogether a most appealing disc with only three faintly negative remarks to make: 1. the piano sounds rather 'chesty' and while sounding pleasing lacks the ultimate in high definition glint. 2. the other Collins Scharwenka discs have been issued by Hyperion at Helios or Dyad price. This one is at premium price. 3. The front cover of the CD has the name as 'Sharwenka' - presumably a misprint for Scharwenka.

No-one else has the coupling and the performances are very good indeed. Tanyel has become the Scharwenka 'priestess' as much as Eric Parkin became the voice of Arnold Bax and John Ireland.

Rob Barnett

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