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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66640
Recording details: October 1992
Huddersfield Town Hall, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: March 1993
Total duration: 14 minutes 28 seconds

'These three works make an excellent programme … all in all an admirably conceived and executed disc' (Gramophone)

'Binns makes a strong case for all three works playing them superbly' (Fanfare, USA)

Piano Concerto No 1 in C sharp minor, Op 30
composer
1882/3; International

Andante mosso  [4'16]
Allegro  [3'52]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Composed in 1882/3, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Piano Concerto was the last of a series of works written in the very happy middle period of his life; other compositions of this period, rich in charming lyricism, included the opera The Snow Maiden and the orchestral Szakza (‘Fairy Tale’). The Concerto was first performed in March 1884 at one of Balakirev’s Free School concerts in St Petersburg and was the last work of Rimsky to be wholly approved of by his erstwhile mentor. While the lyricism is still sincere and deeply felt in the Concerto, the work also foreshadows the master artificer of the later years. Dedicated to the memory of Liszt, it is indebted to that composer in its single-movement structure (akin to Liszt’s Second Concerto in A major) and in its virtuosic decorative pianism. Unlike the Liszt Concerto, however, Rimsky-Korsakov’s is based on only one theme—No 18 from Balakirev’s seminal folksong collection which had been published in 1866.

After four prefatory bars, the folksong is heard on the solo bassoon and again, not long afterwards, on the clarinet. This slow introduction is followed by an Allegretto in the rhythm of a polonaise (‘quasi polacca’), an Andante mosso middle section and a final Allegro, so the basic three-movement form of the conventional concerto is adhered to, but telescoped into a single movement. The metamorphoses of the folksong are always felicitous, and are very clear to the listener. The widely-spaced left-hand accompanimental figure in the lovely central Andante is itself based on the opening of the folksong, while the melodic material is derived from the second part of the song. After this has reached an impassioned climax, the final Allegro is ushered in by vigorous piano chords followed by upward octave semiquaver whole tone scales, and the delight of Balakirev in the genuine warm-hearted lyricism, the well-written bravura passages and the thoroughly appropriate use of the folksong, allows us to place the work still firmly within the Russian nationalist orbit. Furthermore, it influenced concerted pieces by many later Russian composers, including Glazunov, Arensky and, most particularly, Rachmaninov, whose Piano Concerto No 1 was to be written less than a decade later.

from notes by Edward Garden © 1993

Other albums featuring this work
'The Essential Hyperion, Vol. 1' (HYP12)
The Essential Hyperion, Vol. 1
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