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Brana Records

Felicja Blumental – The Italian Collection Volume 2
Vincenzo MANFREDINI (1737-1799)
Piano Concerto in B flat major
Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg/Michiyoshi Inoue
Giovanni PAISIELLO (1740-1816)
Piano Concerto in F major
Torino Symphony Orchestra/Alberto Zedda
Piano Concerto in C major
Württemberg Chamber Orchestra/Jörg Faerber
Felicja Blumental (piano) – with accompaniments as above
Recorded 1972 (Manfredini – others undated)
BRANA RECORDS BR0026 [63.34]

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This is the second of Brana’s ‘Italian Concerto’ series with their favoured artist, the late Polish pianist Felicja Blumental. Earlier we had Viotti and two by Piatti; here we have Manfredini and two by Paisiello. The symmetry is cemented by virtue of the fact that the biggest works on both discs – there the Viotti, here the Manfredini – turn out to be less impressive than their smaller confrères.

Manfredini’s Concerto in B flat major is confident and classically shaped with a sprightly and elegant opening movement. Its slow movement is reserved and not especially memorable; it doesn’t plumb much depth and tends toward the generic and decorative but the finale – much the best movement – has a brightness and edge that embraces a solid scotch snap and fine orchestral tuttis – powerful and alive, and ending well. But it’s for the two concertos by Paisiello that the disc is most valuable. Though he’s known principally for his church and operatic music the C major shows particular panache in writing for the medium. The F major was written for an amateur royal and is betrayed by the (however ingenious) limited opportunities for soloistic display. But the companion work shows considerable daring and imagination – pert and athletic and with a humorous and fluent finale that exudes easy going charm – albeit one that threatens (but never quite delivers) a Turkish Rondo finale à la Mozart’s Fifth Violin Concerto.

Performances are alert and warm, though hardly of course in the luxury class; strings are thin on the ground from the sound of it in the F major but otherwise these recordings – the Manfredini comes from 1972 but the others are undated – are pretty much par for the Vox course for that period. Attractive – especially for that Paisiello C major.

Jonathan Woolf


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