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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67817
Recording details: July 2010
BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff, Wales
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Phil Rowlands
Release date: November 2011
Total duration: 19 minutes 28 seconds

'All three works are far more than vapid virtuoso showpieces, though all contain their share of thundering octaves and brilliant virtuoso display … Hyperion opts for a more transparent sound picture and slightly clearer woodwind and brass details, matched by Becker's lighter, sparkling touch; they have the better booklet (Nigel Simeone)—and, of course, if you are collecting their Romantic Piano Concerto series it will be de facto the first choice' (Gramophone)

Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor, Op 77
1905; dedicated to Francis Planté; first performed by Isidore Philipp at the Concerts Colonne in 26 February 1905

Andante  [5'25]
Tempo deciso  [7'17]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Widor’s Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor, Op 77 was composed in 1905 and is dedicated to Francis Planté. He had performed Widor’s Fantaisie with the composer at a concert in Bordeaux in which Planté and Widor also appeared as soloists in a Bach concerto. Planté, however, did not give the premiere of the Concerto Widor dedicated to him: once again, that honour fell to Isidore Philipp, at the Concerts Colonne on 26 February 1905. Writing about it in Le Ménestrel a week later, Jules Jemain was full of admiration:

With a nice swagger, well suited to reassure any pianist who has been terrorized by tumultuous incidents, M. Charles-Marie Widor gave the premiere of his recently composed Concerto for piano and orchestra which is certainly among the best modern productions. The work is complex … the orchestra, very elaborate, often takes a prominent role, and the piano is a part of this ensemble without losing its distinct personality as a solo instrument. What emerges from this concerto is an impression of remarkable passion, grandeur, and richness. The first well-developed movement is in C minor, ardent and tumultuous in expression. It presents the two main themes on which the whole work will be built. The first of these is very characteristic with its falling minor third—C, B flat, G—and the author draws on this with valuable results later on. A relatively short Andante begins with an expressive phrase, continues with a sort of cadenza leading to a muted violin solo of the happiest effect, accompanied by arabesques on the piano, and linking to the finale, lively and colourful, rich in ingenuity in which an extended progression leads to the return of the main theme. Performed by M. Isidore Philipp with a very secure talent, impeccable technique and gradations of nuances most skilfully deployed, M. Widor’s concerto won all the votes, and author and interpreter were rightly and lengthily acclaimed.

from notes by Nigel Simeone © 2011

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