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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67636
Recording details: January 2008
Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: March 2009
Total duration: 30 minutes 19 seconds

'The busy piano-writing in these two world premieres is brilliant and passionate, the scoring [Jadassohn] is textbook 1887 and the musical structure inventive … Hyperion's A-team for concertos (Andrew Keener and Simon Eadon) is on top form, while the Berlin orchestra and Michael Sanderling provide crisp support for the sparkling and industrious Markus Becker who leaves the impression not only of having an affection for the three works but also that he has been playing them all his life' (Gramophone)

'Altogether an enjoyable disc for those who would explore the unfrequented byways of Romanticism' (BBC Music Magazine)

'These pieces, which burst with … memorable tunes and lashings of showy arpeggios, are played with admirable swagger by Markus Becker and are a welcome addition to Hyperion's exhaustive study of the Romantic Piano Concerto' (The Observer)

'It's clear Becker really feels this music… and I have a feeling you'll want to go back and play it again!' (American Record Guide)

'There is much to enjoy here: the nobility of the second movement of the Jadassohn First, the bucolic energy of the finale of his Second, the rollocking finale of the Draeseke … Becker's confident playing and tonal richness make as persuasive a case for the music as could reasonably be expected' (International Record Review)

'Sonics are first rate, as usual with Hyperion. Let’s hear it for obscure piano concertos!' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

'Markus Becker delivers heroic accounts of all three concertos, and Michael Sanderling's Berlin musicians bring buoyant orchestral textures to the mix' (International Piano)

'Markus Becker's confident, technically adroit performances certainly make the best possible case for all three works, and he receives excellent support from Michael Sanderling and the Berlin Radio orchestra. Typically fine sound guarantees collectors of this series complete satisfaction, while novice listeners interested in good Romantic music should consider this strongly as well. Recommended without reservations' (

'The performances are all that one could expect, the music shown in the best possible light. Markus Becker is both virtuoso and musician' (

Piano Concerto in E flat major, Op 36

Allegro moderato  [9'43]
Adagio  [11'08]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Draeseke’s three-movement Piano Concerto in E flat major Op 36 was composed in 1885–6, and clearly demonstrates the more traditional elements creeping stealthily into the music of this erstwhile lion of the avant-garde. The Adagio slow movement, a fairly straightforward set of variations on a hymn-like theme initially presented by the piano, harks virtually back to Beethoven. It is, indeed, rather obviously indebted to the similar slow movement of Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto (in the same key as Draeseke’s), without, alas, reaching the rapt intensity of the earlier master’s music. The first variation, characterized by alternating figures in sixths, further reminds us that the later nineteenth century was also the era of Brahms, and those listeners who know the slow movement of Brahms’s F minor Piano Sonata will notice some striking echoes here. But this remains the only Brahmsian allusion in the Concerto, for both the first movement, with its vigorously assertive principal theme, and the last movement, a rambunctious scherzo-finale in 6/8 time, confirm that Draeseke’s model was certainly Beethoven. The quasi improvisatory dialogue between soloist and orchestra that so assertively opens the work once again has origins in the initial flourish of the ‘Emperor’, and Beethoven’s finale is also a rollicking movement in 68. Yet Draeseke’s Concerto is hardly a slavish copy of his great predecessor’s. The piano writing, with its plethora of alternating octaves and cascading chords, is very much in the late-Romantic style, and shows that Draeseke’s years with Liszt in Weimar were not entirely wasted. The orchestration, too, is vivid and colourful. There is much to enjoy here, and even if the Concerto’s melodic inspiration is ultimately not the equal of its slick craftsmanship, the piece as a whole hardly deserves the deep oblivion to which it has been consigned over the last hundred years.

from notes by Kenneth Hamilton © 2009

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