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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67791
Recording details: September 2009
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: November 2010
Total duration: 28 minutes 42 seconds

'Milne finds a deal more depth and poetry here [Goetz] and in the second movement, which also features some lovely passages for the woodwind and the horns … this is among the most rewarding concertos of Hyperion's entire series … Milne plays [the Wieniawski] up to the hilt (try the spectacular rondo-finale with its 'wrong note' chordal motif), relegating Setrak's 1987 Le Chant du Monde recording to silver medal position' (Gramophone)

'There is much about Goetz's concerto that is adorable—the slow movement in particular—and it is well worth the average listener's attention … Milne is aristocratic and subtle in both his tone and his interpretation, and this seems appropriate for Goetz's gentlemanlike personality and Concerto … the very Polish finale [of the Wieniawski] … has a main theme whose swashbuckling quality entrenches it in the ear' (International Record Review)

'Goetz delivers generous helpings of melodic warmth with his virtuoso passages, while Josef Wieniawski is all about showcasing the brilliance of the pianist's technique … Hamish Milne's distinctive playing of great clarity and sensitivity invests both these concertos with a characteristic of their own … another success for this long running series of discoveries' (Classic FM Magazine)

'It has become a critical commonplace to wax lyrical about the riches consistently uncovered in Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto Series, but it is nonetheless true for this newcomer … it draws playing of great refinement and balance from Hamish Milne and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra … superb recorded sound, too: highly recommended' (International Piano)

Piano Concerto in G minor, Op 20
composer
circa 1858; published in Warsaw in 1860; dedicated to King Leopold II of Belgium

Allegro moderato  [13'49]
Andante  [7'09]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In the tradition of piano concertos such as those by Chopin and Liszt, Wieniawski’s highly attractive work has relatively little regard for the orchestral contribution other than to give the soloist the occasional rest. After only a couple of dozen bars of introduction, the piano enters with its first cadenza (there is another substantial one before the coda), out of which emerges the material of the first movement. The music is peppered with instructions such as risoluto, furioso and grandioso, which emphasizes the Sturm und Drang character of the music. The piano plays for most of the time, no distractions wanted by its attention-seeking composer-pianist, and indeed the few orchestral ritornelli are dispensed with in unseemly haste. A recurring six-note dotted motif is thoroughly elaborated, a contrasting theme is more reflective, while the florid writing for the piano’s right hand owes much to Chopin.

Like Schumann’s Piano Concerto, the slow movement Andante (in E flat major) has charm and simplicity. It begins with clarinets, bassoons, horns and pizzicato muted strings in dialogue with simple chordal material presented by the piano; it continues in this mood of lyrical cantando with almost inaudible lower-string reinforcement to sustain the bass line. The strings are muted throughout, which contrasts starkly with the Rondo finale that, having been introduced by a brass fanfare, bursts forth in a blaze of Polish bravura. This demands a spectacular display of technique, living proof of Wieniawski’s own brand of virtuosity. The piano-writing, particularly during unaccompanied episodes, is often characterized by clearly intended discords. It is as if Wieniawski distorts a consonant chord with a single ‘wrong’ note creating the impression of a ‘smudge’ (we hear a C natural in a chord of F sharp minor, or an E natural against E flats in a dominant seventh chord of F major). Perhaps this was a mischievous comment on contemporary pianists, and that he, the composer, would take charge of their slips by prescribing them in the score. With only sixteen bars rest in which to take breath in this finale, the soloist has much to say, and does so in spectacular fashion.

from notes by Christopher Fifield © 2010

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