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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67535
Recording details: May 2005
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Andrew Dixon
Release date: September 2006
Total duration: 30 minutes 33 seconds

'In Howard Shelley [Kalkbrenner] has found a pianist who not only relishes everything the composer throws at him, including ambuscades of double notes, but who plays with truly dazzling wit and style … Shelley's effortless bravura would surely have awed and piqued the composer himself' (Gramophone)

'Shelley's fearless and seemingly impeccable technique seems to match Kalkbrenner's ideal of good piano-playing perfectly. The sound is always beautiful, those endless runs at the upper end of the keyboard register delivered as if they came easily rather than being the formidable obstacle course that they really are' (International Record Review)

'Kalkbrenner's First Concerto offers a truly beautiful and atmospheric slow movement … it would be a boring world if we couldn't find an hour to listen to these musical layer cakes from a bygone age' (Pianist)

'Shelley draws committed and expressive playing from this fine ensemble [The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra], besides dispatching the demanding solo parts with unfailing élan' (International Piano)

'Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series is one of the most significant recording ventures in front of the public today … the standard of the Hyperion edition has been so high, and it has done so much to showcase both young and established talent, with such exceptional recording quality, that it remains without parallel. Anyone who revels in exploring the peripheries of the repertoire will enjoy this disc enormously' (MusicWeb International)

'You may well find yourself riveted as the composer springs one surprise after another. He sustains the 15 minutes of the opening movement effortlessly, through good tunes and brilliant keyboard showmanship, and if the music exists primarily to entertain it certainly does so with style and grace … Howard Shelley plays both works with the panache that they require, and given the fact that he seldom has much of a chance to take his hands off of the keyboard, the Tasmanian Symphony stays with him admirably every step of the way. Hyperion's sonics are also better than some other releases from this source, being well balanced and flattering to both soloist and orchestra … you may find them becoming staples at home' (ClassicsToday.com)

'Howard Shelley is a persuasive advocate, who apart from reconstructing the Fourth with Philip Littlemore, performs these pieces with a dazzling wit and style … I have a notion that Shelley's bravura might have unsettled even the composer himself, particularly in the Fourth's finale where the soloist's effortless command of the music is absolutely stunning. Amazingly, Shelley is able to conduct as well as play these concertos with the Tasmanian players wonderfully supportive' (Classical.net)

Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor, Op 61
composer
1823; score reconstructed by Howard Shelley and Phillip Littlemore

Allegro maestoso  [14'35]
Adagio di molto  [7'11]
Rondo: Vivace  [8'47]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Kalkbrenner’s Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor Op 61 was composed in 1823. The first movement (Allegro maestoso) opens with a long orchestral tutti. For its one previous outing on disc (Hans Kann in 1973), this was severely attenuated, a cut suggested by Reinecke in his edition of the work. Similarly, the lengthy opening tutti of Chopin’s E minor Concerto was, at one time, frequently abridged. From the outset of the soloist’s entry, it is clear that this is a display vehicle intent on dazzling the listener with the dexterity of the soloist. As one commentator put it, ‘what he has to say is less important than his manner of saying it’. Kalkbrenner is fairly merciless in his demands on both fingers and stamina—there are few opportunities for Mr Shelley to take his hands from the keyboard once he has begun.

The Adagio di molto movement that follows is ushered in by a chorus of French horns. The simple, stately theme is soon treated to passages in double thirds, the score frequently black with hemidemisemiquavers (sixty-fourth notes) and with much play at the top end of the instrument. It was, after all, good business to exploit the extended range of a piano produced by Kalkbrenner’s company.

The third movement Rondo (Vivace) is another scintillating high-wire act with, as in the opening movement, frequent modulations and abrupt changes of rhythmic scansion. The final few bars bear a marked similarity to the closing measures of Chopin’s (later) E minor Concerto.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2006

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