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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67843
Recording details: June 2010
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Veronika Vincze
Release date: March 2012
Total duration: 32 minutes 58 seconds

'Shelley is a formidable presence both as soloist and conductor. Yes, he has the technique and dexterity to play this music; but he also understands how to make the most of the orchestral writing (which … is frequently more interesting than Chopin's) … there's a considerable grace to his playing too—his immersion in repertoire of this period has given him an innate understanding of what makes it tick' (Gramophone)

'Howard Shelley attacks it all with gleeful extravagance. He is also directing the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra from the piano as he plays music of often atrocious difficulty, which is something of a tour-de-force in itself. It's great fun' (The Guardian)

'Howard Shelley's virtuosity is seemingly effortless, even in the face of pianistic pyrotechnics which are prodigious in the extreme and seemingly endless too … a wonderful beauty and variety of tone, and carefully judged rubato and rhythmic nuances which give an air of improvisation to the constant embellishments of the slow movements … the support of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra is no less distinguished, both in sonority and ardour, carrying the listenere through the extended orchestral expositions with real narrative sweep and ardour … Jeremy Nicholas' notes are excellent and the recording captures every detail and refinement of Shelley's stunning performances' (International Record Review)

'Shelley reminds us of why he is so suited to this repertoire: the sparkling passagework is impeccably and suavely delivered. Interaction between piano and orchestra is beautiful: the flute additions to the piano's ornamnentation are delightful … [The Adagio ed Allegro is] a magnificently chosen filler, a bonne bouche that perfectly showcases Shelley's considerable talents without making any real demands on the listener. Kalkbrenner remains an interesting figure, and these works deserve attention' (International Piano)

Piano Concerto No 2 in E minor, Op 85
1826; dedicated to His Majesty the King of Württemberg

Allegro maestoso  [13'55]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Kalkbrenner’s Piano Concerto No 2 in E minor Op 85 (1826) is dedicated to His Majesty the King of Württemberg. The opening Allegro maestoso begins with the same rhythmic device (and a similar theme) to Hummel’s A minor Concerto published in 1821—also Op 85, Kalkbrenner’s little joke, perhaps. Thereafter the two works quickly diverge, though the writing reveals an intimate acquaintance with Hummel, as well as with the concertos of Beethoven and Field and the arabesque figurations of Weber. Despite the lengthy introduction (88 bars), the orchestra has a similar role to that in Chopin’s two concertos, providing a cushion for what is, at heart, a piano solo, the scoring deliberately graded to support the sound of the piano. The work sets out in E minor, modulating to the relative major for the lyrical second subject (5'00''), and arriving at the tonic major at 10'22'' when this same cantabile episode returns. The slow movement is in C major, marked Adagio non troppo and subtitled ‘La tranquillité’. For a moment its opening theme comes perilously close to that of the last movement of Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony. Even here, there is a restless undercurrent beneath the tranquil surface. The finale is a catchy Rondo marked Allegretto grazioso. With a constant exchange of ideas, a second subject emerges at 1'48'' and a third at 5'45'', the initial theme returning at 6'52'' in the remote key of D flat major. A substantial cadenza brings us back to the home key and a whirlwind of demisemiquaver passagework to round off the work in triumphant fashion.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2012

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