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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67537
Recording details: September 2004
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Produced by Ben Connellan & David Garrett
Engineered by Andrew Dixon
Release date: April 2006
Total duration: 22 minutes 39 seconds

'Here, magnificently performed and recorded, is music to set heads nodding and feet tapping, the epitome of art which scorns profundity and elevates pianistic acrobatics to a high and elegant plane' (Gramophone)

'Howard Shelley is well up to the considerable technical challenges that these works present and, apart from phrasing intelligently himself, persuades the orchestra to follow suit. In all, a disc that looks on the bright side of life' (BBC Music Magazine)

'These charming concertos, the second of three volumes conducted by Shelley from the keyboard, are just the thing to set the feet tapping' (The Observer)

'As on the previous release, Howard Shelley is both soloist and director. It would be hard to think of a more persuasive advocate. His passagework, however technically demanding the music, is always crystalline, and the sound is consistently warm and brilliant' (International Record Review)

'There's tremendous pleasure to be had from the music's sheer charm … and even more from its outbursts of exuberance. Unless you're on a strict musical diet that allows no dessert, this release, like its predecessor, will lift your spirits' (Fanfare, USA)

'Shelley has so much surplus energy that he can lift these entertaining works up to a level where they are so much more than just audible. They are at times even touching and beautiful' (Pianist)

Piano Concerto No 4 in E major, Op 131

Allegro moderato  [9'20]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Though shorter than the Third Concerto and more conservative in its structure, Herz’s Piano Concerto No 4 in E major Op 131 (1843) holds many surprises and unconventional passages. The pivotal material for the first movement (Allegro moderato) is the jaunty and infuriatingly catchy second subject introduced by the strings and woodwind in the lengthy exposition. It is subjected to a number of treatments during which Herz allows the soloist little time to pause for breath. The moment for this comes after a passage of trills and suspended harmonies of which Hummel would have been proud. This would seem to lead inevitably to the movement’s conclusion. Instead Herz proceeds with a transitional eight ritenuto bars, underlined by hushed timpani rolls, to a solo passage in G major marked Lento e senza tempo, come una improvisazione.

After a cadenza, this in turn takes us without pause to the slow movement in C major—Andante cantabile in 9/8—and another of Herz’s simple, delectable melodies. The second part of this theme (in E flat major) disturbs the tranquil waters with surging scales and arpeggios. Having repeated the process with a further procession of busy leggiero and espressivo passagework, the music drifts to a gentle conclusion.

To follow that, Herz offers a lively 2/4 ‘Russian Rondo accompanied by a clochette’ in E minor. Its irresistible course is contrasted not by a lyrical theme as in the archetypal Romantic concerto but by a sprightly repeated-note dance tune. Some brilliantly effective writing for the soloist leads to a tutti and a lusingando (again) bridge in which the clochette re-introduces the rondo theme. When the dance theme returns it is in E major, the key in which the work ends triumphantly.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2006

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