If you count yourself a repertoire explorer
you can rewardingly invest some time in Centaur's catalogue. They
do not get much of a notice in 'major' newsprint perhaps because
they concentrate on rising or neglected talent. It is a pity.
Over the last decade Scharwenka has been recorded
to a respectable extent with Collins (gone the way of all flesh)
and then Hyperion issuing Seta Tanyel's series. This includes
four solo piano recitals, some of the piano concertos and the
chamber works. Tanyel recorded the second and third piano concertos
for Collins but tragically that particular disc has not been reissued
yet. It should be licensed by Hyperion as it would ideally complement
their romantic piano concerto recordings of the First and Fourth
concertos on two separate discs.
The First of these two concertos combines a barnstorming
incendiary tendency with a proclivity for Chopin's soliloquising.
It pulls few punches and is unusual for being sparky throughout
with two allegros framing a catchy scherzo that occasionally,
and momentarily, foxes the heroic Jeanningros. This work was recorded
by Earl Wild in the 1960s with Arthur Fiedler and I remember him
being invincibly secure if a little driven. I rather like this
version which takes time to take in the fragrance of the flowers
amid the landslides of notes.
After the half hour First the Second spans a
Brahmsian forty minutes. Brahms comes to mind also when hearing
the music. The music is less decorative now and clearly grasps
for epic substance. That first movement thunders and lightens
with the mien of Brahms' First Piano Concerto. It comes across
as a much more confident and mature work and could be enjoyed
by anyone who has developed a taste for Charles Stanford's Second
Piano Concerto (Lyrita or Chandos) or the Parry Concerto (Hyperion).
The mid-placed romantic Adagio precedes a cheeky polacca type
finale with Slav pride strutting alongside powerhouse swathes
The technical dimension is handled with warmth
rather than great transparency of detail but that is the nature
of these grand works.
Good notes by Lynne S Mazza. I see that Centaur
and Ms Jeanningros were (as of 1999) to record the other two Scharwenka
concertos although as far as I know that has not happened yet.