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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: 32 minutes 59 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 E flat major, Op 89
composer
movement 1: first performed at the King's Theatre, London, in 1837, published as 2ème Concertino Op 19 by Schott of Mainz c1839; complete version published in 1867 by Cramer in London and first performed by Arabella Goddard at Crystal Palace 27 April 1867

Allegro moderato  [17'05]
Andante  [7'43]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Piano Concerto in E flat major Op 89 has a first movement in the classic form. There is an imposing opening tutti: the quietly lyrical opening theme is punctuated by ominous drumrolls. A surprise key change to D major delays the conclusion of the tutti. The piano enters with a flashy solo that soon moves to the dominant of B flat. In that key there are three elements: a new dotted theme for orchestra, later incorporating special effects on the piano (the highest available notes played una corda); a Chopinesque melody for the piano; and a bouncy closing theme. After the piano exits on a climactic cadence in B flat, the orchestra recalls dotted themes from the opening tutti, and the solo begins a long preparation for the E flat recapitulation: there is little or no modulation this time. It culminates in a written-out ‘cadenza in tempo’, also based on the dotted themes. But the recap of the main theme never comes: instead, we find ourselves hearing the piano’s Chopin-like tune in the home key, and after a lot more filigree work the movement ends with a curt orchestral tutti.

The Andante, again in the key of the flattened sixth (B major), uses a concise sonata form, with both first and second subjects led by the soloist; when the first subject returns it is in an ornate variation. The final Allegro con spirito is also in sonata form. After a sixteen-bar introduction the piano solo brings in the main theme, which strongly suggests the galop, a dance fashionable in Victorian ballrooms and exploited by many composers including Liszt. Four bars of dotted rhythms in the orchestra are answered by the piano in even phrases. After a tutti and a second subject, with an attractive diversion in G flat major, the ‘let ’er rip’ build-up begins in Rossinian fashion. Soon the tonality shifts to D flat major, where the galop theme re-enters. As in the opening movement, the long dominant preparation leads to the second subject; and an enigmatic series of modulations delays the final wind-up.

from notes by Nicholas Temperley © 2009

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