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
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
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