Julius RÖNTGEN (1865-1932)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor (1888) [34:01]
Piano Concerto No. 6 in E minor (1929) [17:16]
Piano Concerto No. 7 in C major (1929) [18:36]
Oliver Triendl (piano)
Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra/Hermann Bäumer
rec. Kristiansand, Kilden, Norway, 2017
CPO 555 055-2 [70:16]
The 24-year-old Julius Röntgen, in his four-movement Third Piano Concerto, stands very positively and pleasantly beholden to Johannes Brahms. Its Olympian milieu places it closer to Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto rather than his First. Another composer is recalled or foreshadowed in the regal huntsman finale: Saint-Saëns. There’s a lot less of the troubled storm or the passions in Rontgen. Instead we seem to hear a struggle to ascend to blessedly sunny uplands and then to wander among the highlands. The movements are short and will not try your patience.
It was into a violently uprooted Europe that the 65-year-old Röntgen ushered in his last two piano concertos. Each lasts not in excess of twenty minutes and the first of them is in a single movement while the second and last is in three. The Sixth Concerto was written for the composer’s friend Donald F Tovey and is affectingly melodious. Textures are clearer than in the Third and although not sounding like his friend Grieg, Röntgen mixes romantic sensibility with uncluttered clarity. The successor to the Sixth emulates the Third in the brevity of its movements and its smiling summer tempests. Come to think of it, there’s something of a parallel here with the magnificently “awkward” Piano Concerto by Dvořák. The work is topped off by a tripping and somewhat Bachian Romanze, very nicely rounded off.
This is the first recording of these three piano concertos and the event is fortunate to be in the hands of these musicians and CPO’s engineers. All this is from a label that has done great and numerous service to the once almost utterly forgotten works of this highly productive Dutch composer. Quite a few labels, including Champs Hill, Nimbus, Conra and Toccata, have all weighed in for Röntgen
This disc complements CPO’s earlier recording of Röntgen’s second and fourth concertos but with different musicians (review). That leaves only the First and Fifth concertos to come before the complete cycle has been presented.