52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  


Buy through MusicWeb for £13.99/15.50 postage paid World-wide.
You may prefer to pay by Sterling cheque or Euro notes to avoid PayPal. Contactfor details

Purchase button

ArchivMusik (USA sales only)

Friedrich KALKBRENNER (1785-1849)
Piano Concertos: No. 1 in D minor, Op. 61 (1823) [30:39]; No. 4 in A flat, Op. 127 (1835) [28:17]
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra/Howard Shelley (piano).
rec. Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmana, 24-27 May 2005. DDD
The Romantic Piano Concerto, Volume 41
HYPERION CDA67535 [59:11]

Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series is one of the most significant recording ventures in front of the public today. Only Turnabout in the days of LPs attempted anything quite so ambitious, with, of course, Naxos entering the fray today. But the standard of the Hyperion edition has been so high, and it has done so much to showcase both young and established talent, with such exceptional recording quality, that it remains without parallel.

Compliments are extended also to the booklet-note writer, Jeremy Nicholas, for his thoroughness. Kalkbrenner’s eventful life is duly (and interestingly) documented, as is his pianism. Apparently Kalkbrenner told his pupils to read a newspaper while practising technical exercises. Now that’s my kind of teacher. Mind you, that’s probably why I’m writing about music rather than playing it ...

The First Concerto has been recorded once before: Hans Kann in 1973 – not a recording I have heard, alas, and apparently in a truncated version. It is difficult to imagine stauncher advocacy than that displayed by Shelley, however. Throughout the thousands of ‘little notes‘ (the printed page must be black!), Shelley’s articulation is ever reliable, ever clear. His enthusiasm for the music carries all before it, inspiring his Tasmanian orchestra to real heights. String articulation can be a joy in the first movement, and moments of drama are truly dramatic - they could so easily be corny.

There is a lengthy opening tutti in the first movement – so much so that the soloist’s entrance at 3:08 is thrown into high relief. From then on, Shelley weaves his magic so that the most mundane passagework becomes interesting. By the way, his left hand does a more than passable imitation of two horns at around the 11:50 mark!

Jeremy Nicholas’s notes point out that the extended use of the solo instrument’s highest register in the Adagio di molto stemmed from the fact that Kalkbrenner’s own instruments had this extended range. Dreamy and utterly Chopinesque - fantastic right-hand hemidemisemiquavers - this is a highlight of the disc. Finally, an active Rondo contains drastic mood-swings towards the reflective. True, there is some flagging of invention here, but note the similarity of the final bars to the close of Chopin’s E minor Concerto.

The Fourth Concerto here receives its world première recording. Interestingly, the score calls for three trombones: one each of alto, tenor and bass. The piano here enters sooner than expected - within the first minute - and sparkles immediately. Shelley’s treble positively glistens in Kalkbrenner’s bright sunlight. The central Adagio is profoundly calming – this alone justifies the recording. Nicholas’s appraisal of the finale’s themes as ‘vapid‘ is spot-on, but nevertheless Shelley wins one round with his all-encompassing enthusiasm.

Robert Schumann’s dismissal of this work as ‘manufactured pathos and affected profundity‘ seems a little harsh in light of Shelley’s performance. Anyone who revels in exploring the peripheries of the repertoire will enjoy this disc enormously.

Colin Clarke

The Hyperion Romantic Piano Concerto Series


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.