Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 32 (1945) [19:55]
Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 48 (2010) [37:31]
Triptych Op. 29 (1993) [21:36]
Levente Kende (piano); Piet Van Bockstal (oboe)
Royal Flemish Philharmonic/Martyn Brabbins
rec. deSingel, Antwerp, Belgium, 15-18 July 2014

I have already had the opportunity to review some recordings of van Hove's music which have been made available commercially. So, the First Piano Concerto and Triptych Op.29 for oboe and orchestra were released several years ago on Megadisc MDC 7823/24 whereas Triptych has also been available on a semi-commercial double CD set published by the Antwerp Royal Conservatoire (Compositieklas Willem Kersters – KVC 2000.001). In the meantime, although not particularly prolific, van Hove's output has been expanding. The Second Piano Concerto, completed in 2010, is amongst van Hove's most recent pieces.

I will certainly not repeat my comments concerning his music and I may best refer anyone interested to my earlier reviews. Suffice it to say that this music clearly belongs to the broad twentieth century mainstream - a mainstream that is not afraid of some mild dissonance. That said, Luc van Hove aims at communication and keeps extravagant complexity at arm's length. Another characteristic is the music's unquestionable honesty and sincerity. Moreover it is superbly crafted by an all-round musician in full command of his aims and means.

All this certainly applies to the more recent work here: the Piano Concerto No.2 Op.48. Unlike its predecessor, the second piano concerto is in three movements whereas the first was in two. The layout is the traditional — one that one might have expected with the weight of the piece in the outer movements framing a somewhat shorter Andante. According to the composer, the extended first movement is in modified sonata-form that allows for contrasting moods within a fairly strict formal mould. The following Andante is simpler with its comparatively peaceful mood being shattered by the forceful opening of the final movement which rushes to its conclusion with much energy. The second piano concerto is a substantial, ambitious and satisfying piece that deserves to be heard.

The soloists here are no strangers to van Hove's music. Each plays with excellent technique and commitment. They are enthusiastically partnered by the Royal Flemish Philharmonic conducted by Martyn Brabbins who has already been responsible for a few highly successful recordings by this orchestra. The recording is again very fine indeed.

In short this well planned and generously filled release is a most welcome addition to van Hove's discography. I have no difficulty whatsoever in praising it wholeheartedly. This is all the more so given the quality of the music and of the performances. This is a disc that should appeal to anyone willing to investigate accessible, well crafted and honest contemporary music.

Hubert Culot

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