Please wait...

Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA68043
Recording details: April 2013
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Veronika Vincze
Release date: July 2014
Total duration: 29 minutes 54 seconds

'Godard's music tickles the senses with some attractive, dramatic ideas during the actual process of listening. There is, for example, a delightful, nifty Saint-Saëns-esque Scherzo to the A minor Concerto, and an even better one in the G minor ... the performances by the indefatigable Howard Shelley and the Tasmanian orchestra cannot be faulted' (Gramophone) » More

'Benjamin Godard is nowadays known solely for the Berceuse from his 1888 opera Jocelyn, regularly performed by classical and popular musicians alike. There was more to him than that, however, as this enterprising disc—Volume 63 of Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series—admirably proves. Godard distrusted Wagnerism, and his two piano concertos constrain Romantic sensibilities within the classical form in ways that often resemble Brahms, though Godard's thematic and orchestral elegance remain quintessentially French … the disc is a tour de force for Howard Shelley, who, in addition to coping with Godard's often vertiginous piano writing, directs all three performances from the keyboard, which is no mean feat' (The Guardian) » More

'Throughout all three works, Shelley dazzles with his effortless virtuosity and lightness of touch, and the recording is first-rate. In short, this release must rank alongside the finest of rediscoveries in this most pioneering of series, and one that should spur on others to explore further the works of this greatly neglected composer' (International Record Review) » More

Piano Concerto No 1 in A minor, Op 31

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Piano Concerto No 1 in A minor, Op 31 (1875), begins with a sepulchral thirteen bars containing the motif that will act as a springboard for the first movement. A vigorous opening tutti and energetic salvo from the soloist leave us in no doubt as to the nature of the work and, while there could hardly be a greater contrast between this and the graceful lyrical second subject marked con fantasia (in E major), it is the dynamic energy of the writing that dominates the sonata-form movement.

A Scherzo comes next—this is a scherzo in the true meaning of the term (a ‘jest’ or ‘joke’), for Godard’s light-hearted, quick-fire interplay between soloist and orchestra cannot fail to bring a smile to the face. The colourful orchestration should not be overlooked, with some merry passages for both the bassoons and flutes. It’s a movement that might well have become a hit in the manner of Litolff’s Scherzo, from the Concerto symphonique No 4, had it been championed in the days of 78-rpm discs.

The third movement, Andante quasi adagio, is among the most affecting slow movements in the Romantic concerto repertoire. It begins as a funeral march (in B minor), then becomes an elegy (in B major) rising to an impassioned outburst of grief before subsiding to an almost quasi niente ending.

If the concluding Allegro ma non troppo (Vivace) does not quite equal the original and distinctive character of the three preceding movements it is not for want of ideas. The second subject, over a long pedal F (first heard after the forceful initial octave theme), is reminiscent of a folk song; when it is decorated (and repeated again over a pedal A), it sounds like a prescient passage from Vincent d’Indy’s 1886 Symphonie cévenole. Godard’s effervescent writing keeps the soloist on the qui vive throughout, with a brief coda (Allegro non troppo) bringing the work to a triumphant conclusion in A major.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2014

   English   Français   Deutsch