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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67165
Recording details: December 2000
Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland
Release date: March 2001
Total duration: 27 minutes 13 seconds

'Technically impeccable … vivid and well produced' (Gramophone)

'[Tanyel] can totally identify with this kind of post-Lisztian lyric bravura style' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The piano writing exudes scintillation and brilliance and seems custom-made for Seta Tanyel's lush, colourful sonority and effortless leggiero fingerwork' (International Record Review)

'Seta Tanyel's thoughtful and richly coloured new performances make a distinguished addition to the catalog … a winner. Strongly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

'Vol. 25 in this Hyperion series deserves to become a best-seller' (Hi-Fi News)

'The Piano Concerto No 2 is a barnstorming, big-hearted, tune-filled warhorse of a piece that audiences would love if they heard it' (Punch)

Piano Concerto No 1 in A minor, Op 15

Presto  [8'25]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The concerto, so the story goes, was composed in just two weeks. It was Joachim Raff who frightened MacDowell into writing it. Calling on his American pupil one day, he asked MacDowell what work he had in hand. Standing rather in awe of Raff at that time, MacDowell without thinking blurted out that he was working on a concerto (in fact, he had no thought of doing so). Raff asked him to bring the work to him the following Sunday by which time MacDowell had just managed to write the first movement. Evading Raff until the following Sunday—still not finished!—he put him off again until the Tuesday by which time he had completed the concerto. Raff was so delighted with the results that he advised his pupil to travel to Weimar and show the work to Liszt. This MacDowell did, playing the work to the great man with Eugen d’Albert, no less, playing the orchestral part at the second piano.

The Piano Concerto in A minor is not, let us be frank, a first-rate work, especially when set beside MacDowell’s later pieces (someone once said they would give all his sonatas and both concertos for the two pages of To a Wild Rose). But, though somewhat immature, it is of more than mere academic interest and one can sense the white-hot inspiration in which it was written. After the opening maestoso chords (embellished in the otherwise unchanged edition posthumously issued in 1910), the soloist leads off into the fiery ‘Allegro con fuoco’ first movement. The end of the ‘Andante tranquillo’ second movement offers glimpses of the simple lyricism that was to be a trademark of MacDowell’s future miniatures. The confident finale (‘Presto’) in ABACA form recalls material from the first movement. Though influenced by the last movement of Grieg’s Concerto, MacDowell’s A minor has more in common with Anton Rubinstein’s showpiece concertos and, if the themes lack individuality and their handling is frequently rhetorical, it remains an effective work—one requiring a brilliant technique to bring it off convincingly.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2001

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