coupling, this. The value of this disc lies primarily in the Penderecki;
the work is dedicated to Blumental. Listening to the disc
straight through is a rather disorientating experience after
the relative straightforwardness of the Paderewski, so perhaps
it is better to isolate this work if it is your primary focus.
It is magnificently performed, with the composer in firm control
of his Polish forces. The ominous, discordant trampings in
the strings, the scoring that almost invokes Stockhausen-like
electronic gestures all point towards the adventurous side
of Penderecki. There is some simply stunning harpsichord playing,
and also some lovely silvery scoring towards the end. A memorable
The Paderewski A
minor Concerto is just the sort of repertoire in which Blumental
excels - see my review of her disc, Pupils
of Beethoven. A shame the recording lacks depth for the
violins take on a disconcerting shrillness. The piano writing
often tends towards the Chopinesque in its decorations and
certainly exhibits much fluency. Blumental is expert at this
fluency; a pity the orchestra is not of better calibre as ensemble
can sometimes be rather ropey and tension can sag as a result.
The night music
of the second movement is rendered with a lovely light touch,
while the finale glitters. This last movement in fact includes
an effective chorale-like section: around the two-minute mark.
Very few clouds mar the brightness of this movement, and Blumental
ensures it dances brilliantly towards the end. If a more modern
recording is required, this concerto appears on Hyperion played
by the fine pianist Piers
Lane (see review).
Polonaise is undemanding fare. There is a Slavic feel
to the opening - dare I say sub-Mussorgsky?; perhaps more
Rimskian! - but it turns out there is much fun to be had,
not least the glittering glissando from Blumental after
seven minutes is up.
see also review by Glyn Pursglove