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Piano Concerto No 2 in F sharp minor, Op 69
autumn 1843; dedicated to Wilhelmin Szarvady; first performed in the Leipzig Gewandhaus on 26 October 1843

'Hiller: Piano Concertos' (CDA67655)
Hiller: Piano Concertos
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Movement 1: Moderato, ma con energia e con fuoco
Movement 2: Andante espressivo
Movement 3: Allegro con fuoco

Piano Concerto No 2 in F sharp minor, Op 69
The Piano Concerto No 2 in F sharp minor Op 69 is considered to be Hiller’s most successful contribution to the genre. The work, which is dedicated to Wilhelmin Szarvady, was composed around the time Hiller moved from Frankfurt to Leipzig in the autumn of 1843. Despite the lack of rehearsal time, the premiere in the Gewandhaus on 26 October 1843 was a success. In this concerto Hiller clearly moved away from the Parisian virtuoso style: compared to his earlier concerto Op 5 this work finds a different solution to the ‘concerto problem’. All three movements are, in their form and development, conceived in a much more multi-layered manner, with piano and orchestra dovetailing more frequently.

The first movement, Moderato, ma con energia e con fuoco, begins unconventionally. Instead of an orchestral exposition, the piano opens the movement and announces the energetic first subject. After a lyrical second subject, an unaccompanied passage for piano merges into the orchestral exposition. After the first subject, a second march-like theme is introduced, with the piano adding its own lyrical and ornamented theme. A fortissimo chord, played by the piano and strings, marks the beginning of a short development section. There is then a reprise of the first subject which, after a few bars, merges into a cadenza for the piano soloist. The thematic material is suffused with embellishments. A final orchestral tutti brings about a synthesis of the first theme and the second orchestral theme. The piano, playing quasi fantasia and ad libitum, leads directly into the slow movement.

The protagonist in the Andante espressivo is clearly the soloist. In a chord-dominated movement the piano announces several lyrical motifs with frequently modulating harmonies. After a return to the first subject there is a highly embellished recitative-like passage in which the soloist plays several bars above string tremolandos and chords played by the wind section. The first subject returns in the orchestra, after which the piano brings the movement to an end with three unaccompanied pianissimo chords.

Viewed formally the finale, Allegro con fuoco, is a combination of sonata structure and development. The orchestra begins the movement, after which the soloist announces the first subject with a distinctive octave leap. The lyrical second subject is also introduced by the piano, accompanied by low-lying pizzicato strings. From now on the themes, or snatches of themes, alternate in various keys, interrupted by pianistic flourishes.

from notes by Eva Hanke İ 2008
English: Roland Smithers

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