Hyperion Records

Piano Concerto in D minor, Op 73
The Piano Concerto in D minor Op 73 was probably composed in the 1840s. In the spring of 1836 Schumann corresponded with Rosenhain asking if he would like to be the Frankfurt correspondent for the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. Schumann’s esteem for the younger composer was based on his admiration for Rosenhain’s Op 2 Piano Trio, in which he detected considerable promise. However, he noted that ‘the later works of this richly talented young man … hardly stand comparison to this excellent beginning’. And after Rosenhain moved to Paris in the late 1830s, Schumann blamed what he perceived to be that city’s bad influence with regard to developing as a composer of more serious works.

Schumann may have not been particularly approving of Rosenhain’s D minor Piano Concerto, since it is fairly conservative in its form, offering little that had not been heard before. Still, there is much gorgeous and masterful music within its traditional three-movement form. The first movement, Allegro non troppo, begins with a relatively abbreviated first tutti featuring effective orchestration that highlights the bassoon, flute, clarinet, oboe and French horn. The solo exposition restates most of this thematic material in D minor, and then moves to the relative major, F, as we would expect in a Mozart concerto (more exotic and remote key areas were exploited by Rosenhain’s contemporaries). The second group is presented in this key (with marked similarity to the first theme, indicating a monothematic construction). Like the works of many other composers in the 1830s and ’40s (Ries, Field, Moscheles, Mendelssohn, Wieck and Schumann), the second group features a chromatic digression to the flattened III and flattened VI tonal areas (i.e., in F major, the keys of A flat major and D flat major), before returning to F major for the conclusion of the first solo section, and the beginning of the second tutti in this key. The tutti provides a seamless transition to G minor, for the beginning of the development in this key, featuring a new theme, developed by both piano and orchestra. Next, a section in A flat major marked quasi recitativo e rubato features lovely concertante statements by various solo instruments within the orchestra, building to fortissimo exchanges between the full tutti and solo. The orchestra seems to begin a false recapitulation with the first theme in the distant key of F sharp major (marked pp, dolcissimo), but this melts down to the tonic after just a few bars. Rosenhain constructs a ‘reverse’ recapitulation, with the second group appearing first. The movement concludes with some exciting exchanges between the soloist and orchestra before a solo clarinet accompanied by the piano closes out the movement. There is no cadenza.

A lovely Andante in B flat major follows. The dotted rhythm of much of the thematic material of the first movement recurs, perhaps reflecting an effort to create an organic, cyclic design across the three movements of this concerto. Following a presentation of thematic material in the tonic, and a modulation to the dominant, the middle section of this movement, in D minor, also features the marking quasi recitativo.

The spirited finale, Presto spirituoso in D major, offers the opportunity for much virtuosic display, with rapid triplet figures and cascading passagework. After a statement of the second group in the dominant, the music leads to a section marked même mouvement in 2/4, in the dominant minor, featuring solo clarinet, and then progressing through several time changes. Again, solo instruments within the orchestra are prominently displayed. Full orchestral tuttis in F major with punctuation from the soloist follow, before a concluding return to D major.

from notes by Stephan D Lindemann © 2010

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