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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66889
Recording details: October 1996
Poole Arts Centre, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Mike Hatch
Release date: January 1997
Total duration: 37 minutes 42 seconds

'Recording and presentation are first class' (Gramophone)

'This entertaining Hyperion CD is one of the year's surprises and very much worth having' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

'Magical playing … the music is irresistibly melodious, inventive and dazzlingly virtuosic. Donohoe throws off the technical pyrotechnics with insouciance. A fine recording only enhances the joys of this entertaining music and Donohoe's exhilarating performance' (The Sunday Times)

'Donohoe and Litton rise to the occasion magnificently with panache and poetry in equal measure … for the fourteenth time in this historically important series of recordings we can raise our hats and say "Thank you, Hyperion"' (Classic CD)

'Peter Donohoe assume parfaitement les défis de ces pages flamboyantes, dans lesquelles l'Orchestre de Bournemouth fait preuve de tout l'éclat approprié' (Diapason, France)

Concerto symphonique No 4 in D minor, Op 102

Allegro con fuoco  [13'04]
Scherzo: Presto  [6'29]
Adagio religioso  [7'33]
Allegro impetuoso  [10'36]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
This is perhaps Litolff’s finest piano concerto and the musical achievements in it are many. The first and last movements are based entirely on one idea, or theme, which Litolff handles in such a way that the aural illusion impressed upon the listener is that two or more themes are present. These movements are also thematic in that fragments of the theme appear in sections which are ordinarily not thematic (for example, transitional and modulatory passages). The co-operative interplay between the orchestral instruments and the piano is particularly developed. Litolff displays a complete command of the rhythmical architectonic structure and the fusion of a large orchestra and a single piano into one body of sound. At no time does the concerto seem to be a concerto: it is a symphony for two bodies of sound whose co-operative elements make it one whole.

The first movement, Allegro con fuoco, retains the double exposition structure seen in the second concerto. Each exposition adopts transformation and inversion and uses the thematic material sequentially. The Scherzo (Presto) is again the second movement, and its use of triangle and piccolo gives it a novel effect, helping to fulfil the generic meaning of the title ‘Concerto Symphonique’. Litolff’s manipulation of the orchestra and piano in question-and-answer type motifs produces one of his finest Scherzos.

The third movement (Adagio religioso) is linked to the second without pause and serves as the modulating force from D minor to F major. In three-part form, the third movement is improvisational in character. The final Allegro impetuoso has an introduction followed by a carefully worked-out sonata structure with some tempo changes within the movement. The virtuosic conclusion, with its flourishes and bravura character, underscores Litolff’s coloristic use of the piano and the orchestra.

The concerto is scored for two flutes, piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani and strings.

from notes by Ted Blair © 1997

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