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Romantic Piano Concertos
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95300 [40 CDs: 43 hrs]

For those of a certain age and a musically adventurous disposition, as well as a liking for garish LP sleeves, this fine set should bring back memories. The majority of the recordings - all but six of the forty discs - were originally issued on Vox/Turnabout in the 1960s and 1970s. I remember that I had several of these LP recordings. I know a few people who had a lot more than me and who are still enjoying them. This set seems to be an enlarged version of Brilliant Classics' The Golden Age of the Romantic Piano Concerto (9021), which presented some of these recordings in a 20 CD format.

The present wide-ranging collection offers representation for sixty-nine composers ranging from Giovanni Benedetto Platti (1697-1763) to Jean Françaix (1912-1997), with no fewer than one hundred and eight works. Whilst the notes by Philip Borg-Wheeler make a good case for the inclusion of some of the composers, saying that they all have Romantic tendencies, is I think pushing the envelope a bit far. It's true that the great German polymath E T A Hoffmann described the three greatest instrumentalists of the Romantic movement as Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. There are even a few studies which discuss Sibelius and Romanticism, but in my opinion, a few of the works presented here are clearly Classical in nature whilst even more are post-Romantic. That being said these odd exceptions do not detract from the overall appeal. There are however a few omissions which are strange. For example Brilliant have a boxed set of all the John Field piano concertos (93783), so why miss out numbers one and seven. I can understand why they omitted the popular concertos, no Chopin, Liszt and Schumann; they probably think that most people will have recordings of the likes of these, but the Field works are hardly well known.

Where this set does excel is in the inclusion of smaller concertante pieces, some thirty-three of them, with many being of great interest and with some being the only available recording. We also get recordings of piano concertos which remain relatively unknown such as the Hoffmeister and the Viotti. Although early, these do show the Romantic tendencies that Philip Borg-Wheeler talks about. Right from the very first disc this stylistic variety is shown. The Cramer shows indebtedness to Mozart and early Beethoven, whereas the Czerny and Ries are firmly in the mould of the mature master. Indeed Ries has been described as ‘a sort of second class Beethoven’. Then again they do say that plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery. However, here Ries in his C sharp minor concerto shows that he is a master of this form and that he has his own voice. Yes, there is a nod towards the master, but there is in a lot of the music of the first half of the nineteenth century. This is carried through into the second disc with the music of the Beethoven’s acolyte, Hiller. He shows a greater Beethovenian influence than that to be found in the works of Moscheles and Litolff, both of whom demonstrate a progression from and development of the Romantic style. As to the great man himself, he features on two discs, the first is on disc 21 where his Concerto in E flat WoO4 is well coupled with works by Hummel. Disc 38 presents Beethoven’s Rondo in B flat WoO6 as well as his own piano arrangement of the Violin Concerto; some argue that the piano version came first. These make an interesting addition to the five numbered concertos and, as heard here, prove that they are not just for the Beethoven completist.

There are works that sound too post-Romantic to be included, especially when coupled with the likes of the Simon Mayr Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major. Here the Mayr appears alongside the works by Roussel and Pierné which sound out of place. The Mayr was coupled with the Ferdinand Ries Piano concerto in C sharp minor on the original Turnabout LP, which was an ideal pairing. It is a pity that the same care towards coupling was not employed in a few places in this set. However, it's hardly a major problem and it is easy to programme your CD machine to play only part of a disc.

It is in the rarer works that this set earns its place upon the shelf. Pieces by the likes of Kalkbrenner, Goetz, Bronsart, Mosonyi, Vogler and Stavenhagen rub shoulders with better known composers. Not all of these more unusual pieces are as inspired as other works presented here. Even so, it is interesting to hear them against the background of the development of the Romantic style. In this context they fit well with the thinking behind the set where they might not tempt you if they were presented on a single disc.

In the 1970s and 1980s, when the listener was starved of the unusual and was happy to listen to anything off the beaten track, some of these pieces sounded more exciting than they do now. I can remember enjoying a couple of the pieces more then than now. This is partly due to Hyperion’s wonderful Romantic Piano Concerto series, which has taken us yet further off the beaten track. It should be noted that some of the works presented here by Brilliant Classics do not feature in the Hyperion series and this makes this set all the more valuable.

A number of pianists have been employed, with Michael Ponti providing the lion’s share of the recordings. He proves an ample interpreter and someone who shows a love for this era of piano concertante music. Indeed, all the pianists featured here present the works in a convincing and well measured way. This can also be said of the orchestras, many of which were small provincial European bands under the control of now often forgotten conductors. All give of their best and the resulting performances are convincing and engaging. There are a couple of instances where the recordings show their age with the strings sounding a little thin but on the whole they are much more than serviceable. They may not stand up to the modern recording techniques employed by Hyperion but when you consider that this set is being offered by some online retailers for less than the price of three single full price releases you can appreciate just how much of a real bargain this set is.

Over the time that I have had this set to review I have listened to every disc at least four times and have enjoyed every minute. This very substantial offering will give hours of listening pleasure. Whether you listen to it systematically or just dip in for the odd piece great enjoyment is to be had.

Stuart Sillitoe

Contents
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in A minor ‘Concerto fantastico’ Op. 78
Felicja Blumental (piano)
RAI National Symphony Orchestra/Alberto Zedda
Eugen d’ALBERT
Piano Concerto No. 2 in E major Op. 12
Michael Ponti (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Pierre Cao
Charles-Henri ALKAN (1813-1888)
Concerto da Camera in C sharp minor Op. 10 No. 2
Michael Ponti (piano)
Southwest German Chamber Orchestra Pforzheim/Paul Angerer (rec. 1979)
Anton ARENSKY (1861-1901)
Piano Concerto in F minor Op. 2
Maria Littauer (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Jörg Faerber
Mily BALAKIREV (1837-1910)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in E flat major
Michael Ponti (piano)
Westphalian Symphony Orchestra/Siegfried Landau (rec. 1975)
Samuel BARBER (1910-1981)
Piano Concerto Op. 38
Abbott Ruskin (piano)
M.I.T. Symphony Orchestra/David Epstein (rec. 1976)
Amy BEACH (1876-1944)
Piano Concerto Op. 45
Mary Louise Boehm (piano)
Westphalian Symphony Orchestra/Siegfried Landau (rec. 1976)
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1829)
Piano Concerto in E flat major/WoO 4
Martin Galling (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Carl-August Bünte
Piano Concerto in D major, arranged by the composer after the Violin Concerto Op. 61a
Shoko Sugitani (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Oskamp (rec. 1970)
Rondo for Piano & Orchestra in B flat major/WoO 6
Walter Klien (piano)
Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra/Jerzy Semkow (rec. 1979)
Franz BERWALD (1796-1868)
Piano Concerto in D major
Michael Ponti (piano)
Southwest German Chamber Orchestra Pforzheim/Paul Angerer (rec. 1979)
Hans von BRONSART (1830-1913)
Piano Concerto in F sharp minor Op. 10
Michael Ponti (piano)
Westphalian Symphony Orchestra/Richard Kapp
Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1953)
Konzertstück Op. 31a
Frank Glazer (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Carl-August Bünte
Alfredo CASELLA (1883-1947)
Scarlattiana Op. 44
Triple Concerto Op. 56
A notte alta for piano and orchestra Op. 30bis
Paolo Restani (piano), Stefano Vagnarelli (violin), Relja Lukic (cello)
Philharmonic Teatro Regio Torino/Marzio Conti (rec. 2005)
Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Allegro de Concert in A major Op. 46
Michael Ponti (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach (rec. 1978)
Variations on Mozart's 'La ci darem la mano' in B flat major Op. 2
Fantasy on Polish Airs in A Major Op. 13 -
Rondo a la Krakowiak Op. 14
Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante in E Flat Major Op. 22
Abbey Simon (piano)
Hamburg Symphony Orchestra/Heribert Beissel (rec. 1972)
Muzio CLEMENTI (1752-1832)
Piano Concerto in C major Op. 33 No. 3
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Prague New Chamber Orchestra/Alberto Zedda (rec. 1969)
Johann Baptist CRAMER (1771-1858)
Piano Concerto No. 5 in C minor Op. 48
Akiko Sagara (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Pierre Cao (rec. 1974)
Carl CZERNY (1791-1857)
Divertissement de Concert Op. 204
Michael Ponti (piano)
Southwest German Chamber Orchestra Pforzheim/Paul Angerer (rec. 1978)
Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 214
Falicja Blumental (piano)
Vienna Chamber Orchestra/Helmuth Froschauer
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Fantasie for piano and orchestra
Marylène Dosse (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Louis de Froment
Ernö von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960)
Variations on a Nursery Tune Op. 25
Béla Síki (piano)
Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Milton Katims
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Piano Concerto in G minor Op. 33
Rudolf Firkušný (piano)
Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra/Walter Susskind
John FIELD (1782-1837)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in A flat major H31
Rena Kyriakou (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Carl-August Bünte (rec. 1968)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat major H29
Piano Concerto No. 4 in E flat major H28
Piano Concerto No. 5 in C major 'L'incendie par l'orage'/H39
Piano Concerto No. 6 in C major H49
Paolo Restani (piano)
Nice Philharmonic Orchestra/Marco Guidarini (rec. September 2007- June 2008)
Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997)
Piano Concerto
Claude Paillard-Françaix (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Jean Françaix
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Symphonic Variations for piano & orchestra M46
Ilse von Alpenheim (piano)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Antal Doráti
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Piano Concerto in F major
Eugene List (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Samuel Adler (rec. 1971)
Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in B major Op. 100
Michael Ponti (piano)
Westphalian Symphony Orchestra/Siegfried Landau (rec. 1975)
Hermann GOETZ (1840-1876)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major Op 18
Michael Ponti (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Pierre Cao (rec. 1973)
Adolf von HENSELT (1814-1889)
Piano Concerto in F minor Op. 16
Michael Ponti (piano)
Philharmonia Hungarica/Othmar Maga (rec.1973)
Ferdinand HILLER (1811-1885)
Piano Concerto in F sharp minor Op. 69
Michael Ponti (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach (rec. 1974)
Konzertstück for Piano & Orchestra Op. 113
Jerome Rose (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Pierre Cao (rec. 1973)
Franz Anton HOFFMEISTER (1754-1812)
Piano Concerto in D Op. 24
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Prague Chamber Orchestra/Alberto Zedda
Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL (1778-1837)
Concertino in G major Op. 73
Martin Galling (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Carl-August Bünte (rec. 1968)
Piano Concerto in E major Op. 110 'Les Adieux'
Hans Kann (piano)
Hamburg Symphony Orchestra/Heribert Beissel (rec. 1973)
Rondeau ‘La Galante’ Op.120
Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 85
Martin Galling (piano)
Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra/Alexander Paulmüller
Friedrich KALKBRENNER (1785-1849)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor Op. 61
Hans Kann (piano)
Hamburg Symphony Orchestra/Heribert Beissel (rec. 1973)
Leopold KOZELUCH (1747-1818)
Piano Concerto in D
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg/Leopold Hager
Friedrich KUHLAU (1786-1832)
Piano Concerto in C major Op. 7
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Salzburg Symphony Orchestra/Theodor Guschlbauer
Edouard LALO (1823-1892)
Piano Concerto in F minor
Michael Ponti (piano)
Westphalian Symphony Orchestra/Siegfried Landau (rec. 1976)
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Malédiction for Piano and Strings S121 Op. 452
Michael Ponti (piano)
Southwest German Chamber Orchestra Pforzheim/Paul Angerer
Rhapsodie Espagnole for Piano and Orchestra (arr. Busoni)
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Prague Symphony Orchestra/Helmuth Froschauer
Totentanz
Michael Ponti (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach (rec. 1980)
Henry LITOLFF (1818-1891)
Concerto Symphonique in E flat major
Michael Ponti (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach (rec. 1978)
Sergei LYAPUNOV (1859-1924)
Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes Op. 28
Michael Ponti (piano)
Westphalian Symphony Orchestra/Siegfried Landau (rec. 1975)
Edward MacDOWELL (1860-1908)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor Op. 23
Eugene List (piano)
Westphalian Symphony Orchestra/Siegfried Landau (re.1972)
Daniel Gregory MASON (1873-1953)
Prelude & Fugue Op. 20
Mary Louise Boehm (piano)
Westphalian Symphony Orchestra/Siegfried Landau
Simon MAYR (1763-1845)
Piano Concerto No.1 in C
Maria Littauer (piano)
Hamburg Symphony Orchestra/Alois Springer (rec. 1973)
Nikolai MEDTNER (1880-1951)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E minor Op. 60
Michael Ponti (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Pierre Cao (rec. 1973)
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Concerto in D minor for Violin/Piano and String Orchestra
Bart van Oort (piano) Gil Sharon (violin)
Amati Chamber Orchestra/Gil Sharon
Piano Concerto in A minor
Siegfried Stöckigt (piano)
MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra/Herbert Kegel
Capriccio Brillant in B minor Op. 22
Michael Ponti (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach (rec. 1978)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor Op. 25
Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor Op. 40
Capriccio Brillant in B minor Op. 22
Derek Han (piano)
Israel Chamber Orchestra/Stephen Gunzenhauser
Ignaz MOSCHELES (1794-1870)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in G minor Op. 58
Michael Ponti (piano)
Philharmonia Hungarica/Othmar Maga (rec. 1968)
Mihaly MOSONYI (1815-70)
Piano Concerto in E minor
Jerome Rose (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Pierre Cao
Moritz MOSZKOWSKI (1854-1925)
Piano Concerto in E major Op. 59
Michael Ponti (piano)
Philharmonia Hungarica/Hans Richard Stracke (rec. 1969)
Ignacy PADEREWSKI (1869-1941)
Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 17
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Helmuth Froschauer
Giovanni PAISIELLO (1740-1816)
Piano Concerto in C major
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn/Jörg Faerber
Gabriel PIERNÉ (1863-1937)
Piano Concerto in C minor Op. 12
Marylène Dosse (piano)
Stuttgarter Philharmoniker/Matthias Kuntzsch (rec.1976)
Giovanni Benedetto PLATTI (1697-1763)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in G major
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Salzburg Symphony Orchestra/Theodor Guschlbauer
Joachim RAFF (1822-1882)
Piano Concerto in C minor Op. 185
Michael Ponti (piano)
Hamburg Symphony Orchestra/Richard Kapp
Ode to Spring Op. 76
Michael Ponti (piano)
Hamburg Symphony Orchestra/Richard Kapp (rec. 1972)
Max REGER (1873-1916)
Piano Concerto in F minor Op. 114
Amadeus Webersinke (piano)
Dresden Philharmonic/Günther Herbig (rec. 1973)
Carl REINECKE (1824-1910)
Piano Concerto No.1 in F sharp minor Op. 72
Michael Ponti (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Pierre Cao (rec/1973)
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)
Toccata for Piano and Orchestra
Concerto in modo misolidio
Sandro Ivo Bartoli (piano)
Saxon State Theatre Orchestra/Michele Carulli
Josef RHEINBERGER (1839-1901)
Piano Concerto in A flat Op. 94
Michael Ponti (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach (rec. 1978)
Ferdinand RIES (1784-1832)
Piano Concerto in C sharp minor Op. 55
Maria Littauer (piano)
Hamburg Symphony Orchestra/Alois Springer (rec. 1972)
Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937)
Piano Concerto in G Major Op. 36
Maria Littauer (piano)
Hamburg Symphony Orchestra/Alois Springer (rec. 1970)
Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894)
Piano Concerto No. 4 in D minor Op. 70
Michael Ponti (piano)
Philharmonia Hungarica/Othmar Maga (rec. 1968)
Konzertstück Op. 113
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Helmuth Froschauer
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Africa - Fantasie for piano & orchestra Op. 89
Marylène Dosse (piano)
Westphalian Symphony Orchestra/Siegfried Landau
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D major Op. 17
Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor Op. 22
Piano Concerto No. 4 in C minor Op. 44
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E-flat major Op. 29
Piano Concerto No. 5 in F major Op. 103 'Egyptian'
Africa - Fantasie for piano & orchestra Op. 89
Gabriel Tacchino (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Louis de Froment
Xaver SCHARWENKA (1850-1924)
Piano Concerto in C minor Op. 56
Michael Ponti (piano)
Hamburg Symphony Orchestra/Richard Kapp (rec. 1972)
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Introduction & Allegro appassionato in G major Op. 92
Michael Ponti (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Louis de Froment (rec. 1973)
Introduction and Concert-Allegro Op. 134
Peter Frankl (piano)
Bamberg Symphony/János Fürst
Christian SINDING (1856-1941)
Piano Concerto in D flat major Op. 6
Roland Keller (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Jörg Faerber (rec. 1976)
Carl STAMITZ (1745-1801)
Piano Concerto in F major
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn/Jörg Faerber
Bernhard STAVENHAGEN (1862-1914)
Piano Concerto in B minor Op. 4
Roland Keller (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Jörg Faerber
Germaine TAILLEFERRE (1893-1983)
Ballade
Rosario Marciano (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Louis de Froment
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat major Op. 75
Michael Ponti (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Louis de Froment
Concert Fantasy Op. 56
Michael Ponti (piano)
Prague Symphony Orchestra/Richard Kapp
Sigismond THALBERG (1812-1871)
Piano Concerto in F minor Op. 5
Michael Ponti (piano)
Westphalian Symphony Orchestra/Richard Kapp(rec. 1973)
Václav Jan Křtitel TOMÁSEK (1744-1850)
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra C major Op. 18
Peter Toperczer (piano)
Prague Symphony Orchestra/Jindřich Rohan
Giovanni Battista VIOTTI (1755-1824)
Double Concerto in A for violin, piano and strings
Martin Galling (piano)/Suzanne Lautenbacher (violin)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Carl-August Bünte
Piano Concerto in G minor
Felicja Blumental (piano)
RAI National Symphony Orchestra/Alberto Zedda
Georg Joseph VOGLER (1749-1814)
Variations on “Marlborough, s’en va-t-en guerre” (1791)
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Prague New Chamber Orchestra/Alberto Zedda
Robert VOLKMANN ( 1815-1883)
Konzertstück for piano and orchestra Op. 42
Jerome Rose (piano)
Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Pierre Cao (rec. 1975)
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1883)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major J. 98 Op. 11
Piano Concerto No. 2 in E flat major J. 155 Op. 32
Konzertstück in F minor Op. 79 for piano & orchestra
Roland Keller (piano)
Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Siegfried Kohler (rec. 1979)

 

 




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