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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67950
Recording details: July 2012
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Veronika Vincze
Release date: September 2013
Total duration: 28 minutes 28 seconds

'These works offer a fascinating backdrop to the greatest masterpieces of the age. And you couldn't imagine a finer advocate than Howard Shelley, who is not only palpably committed to the cause (enthusing the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in the process) but who has both the dexterity and the musicality to make the best possible case for this music. Mention should be made, too, of the entertaining and informative notes by Jeremy Nicholas' (Gramophone)

'Played like this with virtuoso panache and total conviction, these pieces sound like neglected masterworks' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Howard Shelley, joyously familiar to collectors of this series, negotiates the coruscating arabesques, trills, repeated notes, thirds and what not with great aplomb, synchronising the orchestral accompaniment with remarkable skill even in rubato places where you'd think both hands were more full … the album is well worth the money for these works alone … Shelley is brilliant, as ever … adventurous newcomers should hop aboard, instantly. Another Hyperion triumph' (International Record Review)

'Shelley's limpid touch, clarity of fingerwork and limitless musicality make the effort sound as if it’s the proverbial piece of cake. The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra rises to the challenge with verve and charm' (Sinfini.com)

Piano Concerto in A major, Op 7
composer
1836; dedicated to Sa Majesté La Reine de Naples, Marie Isabelle de Bourbon, Infante d’Espagne, Mére [sic] du Roi Ferdinand II du Royaume des Deux Siciles

Maestoso  [13'44]
Adagio  [4'09]
Allegretto  [10'35]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Döhler’s Opus 7 may not be a masterpiece on the same level as Hummel’s A minor or Chopin’s E minor concertos, but for a period-piece of scintillating prestidigitation it has few rivals, graced, moreover, with many passages of charming lyrical invention. It is, in short, an entertaining work for the audience and a high-wire act for the soloist. You must look elsewhere for nobility or profound musical thought, but the success or failure of the concerto form does not rely solely on these elements, despite Schumann’s lofty claim to the contrary (‘… already in the middle I began, while playing one page, to cast hopeful looks towards the next, for the composer displeased me more and more; and at last I was forced to confess that he has no idea of the real worth of art’).

Döhler’s Concerto, composed in 1836, has an imposing dedication to ‘Sa Majesté La Reine de Naples, Marie Isabelle de Bourbon, Infante d’Espagne, Mére [sic] du Roi Ferdinand II du Royaume des Deux Siciles’. The opening of the concerto is equally imposing (Maestoso, tutti, fortissimo), presenting the two contrasted main subjects in conventional style. The soloist takes them up with enthusiasm, unleashing over the next six minutes a virtually non-stop fusillade of rapid runs in thirds, sixths and contrary motion, with some huge leaps along the way. Trills piled on trills (Hummel would have been proud!) lead inevitably back to the main subject followed by a change of key to C major and a Chopinesque third subject. At 8'31'' Döhler takes another turn, modulating briefly to C sharp minor for his next idea in jabbering semiquavers. Brilliant triplet scale passages return the music to the tonic and an attenuated recapitulation of the two main subjects. After a repeat of some of the vigorously decorated material from earlier, the movement storms to a conclusion.

The short slow movement (Adagio) in F major also begins fortissimo and tutti, but here the soloist enters after a few bars with another theme reminiscent of Chopin, before filigree runs quickly increase in intensity leading, unusually, to a cadenza (Presto). This segues into the jaunty 2/4 rondo finale (Allegretto). Döhler’s second subject is a suave cavatina that soon breaks into his now familiar passages of breathtaking triplet runs, repeated notes and other keyboard athletics. A third subject appears at 2'22''. The tutti which finally gives the soloist a few moments respite is not the rondo theme but a newcomer. When the rondo theme finally reappears at 4'45'' it is succeeded by a fourth theme (Più lento and cantabile) in D major. Yet another idea is introduced at 6'54'', nominally in D minor and marked Vivo e brillante. The final pages make extreme demands on the soloist’s dexterity and precision.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2013

Other albums featuring this work
'Hyperion monthly sampler – September 2013' (HYP201309)
Hyperion monthly sampler – September 2013
HYP201309  Download-only monthly sampler   No longer available
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