Julius RÖNTGEN (1855-1932)
Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18 (1879) [32:52]
Piano Concerto No. 4 in F major (1906) [26:26]
Matthias Kirschnereit (piano)
NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover/David Porcelijn
rec. 5-9 May 2008, NDR Hannover. DDD
CPO 777 398-2 [59:24]
CPO take a diversion from the symphonies into these two three-movement piano concertos of Germanophile Dutch composer Julius Röntgen.
The concertos owe their glossary to Brahms but this does not mean that they are to the same Olympian scale as the two Brahms concertos. In fact each runs to a couple of minutes either side of half an hour. The style of the Second Piano Concerto of owes a deep fealty to Brahms. One has the sense that Röntgen in 1879 had found the musical apple of his eye and would be feasting his creativity on that object. There is no doubting this. In fact the very oxygen and topography of the ideas derive from the Hamburg-born master. The first movement has that chiming pastoral high-mindedness you hear in the Grieg concerto - Grieg was a friend of Röntgen. The movement traverses stirring Olympian landscapes to attain idyllic introspection. Röntgen’s introspection looks upon internal realms and it is clear that what he finds is good and contents his mind. There is no anxiety here - only a tender absorption in beauty. The second movement is pervaded by centred calm. The finale breaks the spell with a dignified and grand Polish dance - delicious delicacy from 4:55 onwards. For all of my comments about Grieg and Brahms it should be borne in mind that in 1879 the Brahms Second Piano Concerto lay two years in the future though the Grieg had been written a decade earlier.
The shadow of Brahmsian confidence is still there in the wings for the Fourth Concerto. It’s strongly present in the unhurried romanticism of the Larghetto but moderated by a elysian romance - something between Beethoven and Chopin. The finale has a vigorously dancing exuberance. The Allegro is a faithful reflection of the mood of the two outer movements. The First movement lends an ear to the mysterious rumbling of Beethoven’s Ninth but this is a transitory presence. Soon the centripetal pull of Röntgen’s exalted Brahmsian calling asserts itself.
The performances and recording are mete companions to the overarching air of surging confidence and affectionate introspection. The capable and generously proportioned notes are by Röntgen biographer Dr Jurjen Vis. Another strongly perfumed entry in the Röntgen revivals.
For all of my usual comparisons these works are very satisfying and have some extremely beautiful, noble and fresh things to say. Just don’t look for high tragedy.
Rob Barnett 
Some extremely beautiful and even noble and fresh things to say - just don’t look for high tragedy.
Other Röntgen Reviews on MusicWeb International 
Chamber works - RCA
Symphony 3 - CPO
Symphonies 8 15 - CPO
Symphony 10 - CPO
Symphony 18 - CPO
Goethes Faust - CPO
Cello Concertos - Etcetera