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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67720
Recording details: April 2008
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Veronika Vincze
Release date: July 2009
Total duration: 26 minutes 15 seconds

'Howard Shelley, conducting from the keyboard, produces blistering accounts of the solo parts, and his Tasmanians play their hearts out. The recorded sound is fine, too. Recommended with every enthusiasm: 70 minutes of unalloyed pleasure' (International Record Review)

'Both works contain arrestingly characterful and lovely things. Benedict's aim is to dazzle his listeners with dashing brilliance … Shelley is a beguiling player … fresh, fluent, lucid, suave and never tempted to oversell' (The Sunday Times)

'Pianophiles and collectors of rarities will gravitate to this beautifully performed disc. It's a tour-de-force of pianism-plus-directing from Howard Shelley' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The TSO plays with the punch and style of the 40s movie studio orchestras … and the works are simply delightful … with a classy piano leading the way, this great find is simply magical gold laced with genius. The quickest way to cut through jaded classical ears is with a dose of this gem' (Midwest Record, USA)

Piano Concerto in C minor, Op 45
1850; first performed under the title Conzertstück at a Philharmonic Society of London concert in 1850; published in Leipzig in 1852

Allegro maestoso  [10'13]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Piano Concerto in C minor Op 45 starts in Mozartian fashion, with a tense theme in dotted rhythms. It sounds like an orchestral tutti, but the piano soon appears on a diminished-seventh arpeggio, and later, without waiting for a clear ending of the orchestral introduction, enters forcefully in the remote key of E major. The normal complementary key (E flat major) is reached by a roundabout route. The warmly tuneful second subject is started by the piano alone, but a solo cello winds its way in before the quiet conclusion. After a long solo display through various keys, the recapitulation is heard tutta forza. The second subject recurs in a Mozartian C minor rather than a Haydn/Beethoven C major. The coda (energico con fuoco) provides a big build-up towards final-sounding chords, which unexpectedly move away from the tonic. A tonally unanchored passage, with mysterious calls from the woodwinds, ‘glides’ into the next movement, as the Musical World put it in a detailed review.

The Andante pastorale uses the key of the flattened sixth (A flat) favoured by Beethoven in his C minor concerto, and by many subsequent composers. A horn plays an opening melody with a pretty accompaniment on the piano and plucked strings. The piano then takes up the tale. An episode starts in F minor; then comes a totally unexpected shift to Allegro, followed by a tonal surprise with loud piano chords in 6/8, and another mysterious passage with fragmentary phrases for various instruments. If this suggests a romantic narrative, its nature is left to our imagination. The main tune returns and the movement ends in a luscious dream. The finale (Allegro con spirito) begins with a bustling theme in F minor, but it soon becomes clear that the triumphant key of C major will set the mood. Several more surprises are in store: a contrasting section in E major before the middle cadence in G; a fugato, beginning in the strings; and a brief recall of the tune from the Andante, played by the oboe. In the drive to the finish, triplets provide an added rush of excitement.

from notes by Nicholas Temperley © 2009

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