Hyperion Records

Piano Concerto in G minor, Op 20
In the tradition of piano concertos such as those by Chopin and Liszt, Wieniawski’s highly attractive work has relatively little regard for the orchestral contribution other than to give the soloist the occasional rest. After only a couple of dozen bars of introduction, the piano enters with its first cadenza (there is another substantial one before the coda), out of which emerges the material of the first movement. The music is peppered with instructions such as risoluto, furioso and grandioso, which emphasizes the Sturm und Drang character of the music. The piano plays for most of the time, no distractions wanted by its attention-seeking composer-pianist, and indeed the few orchestral ritornelli are dispensed with in unseemly haste. A recurring six-note dotted motif is thoroughly elaborated, a contrasting theme is more reflective, while the florid writing for the piano’s right hand owes much to Chopin.

Like Schumann’s Piano Concerto, the slow movement Andante (in E flat major) has charm and simplicity. It begins with clarinets, bassoons, horns and pizzicato muted strings in dialogue with simple chordal material presented by the piano; it continues in this mood of lyrical cantando with almost inaudible lower-string reinforcement to sustain the bass line. The strings are muted throughout, which contrasts starkly with the Rondo finale that, having been introduced by a brass fanfare, bursts forth in a blaze of Polish bravura. This demands a spectacular display of technique, living proof of Wieniawski’s own brand of virtuosity. The piano-writing, particularly during unaccompanied episodes, is often characterized by clearly intended discords. It is as if Wieniawski distorts a consonant chord with a single ‘wrong’ note creating the impression of a ‘smudge’ (we hear a C natural in a chord of F sharp minor, or an E natural against E flats in a dominant seventh chord of F major). Perhaps this was a mischievous comment on contemporary pianists, and that he, the composer, would take charge of their slips by prescribing them in the score. With only sixteen bars rest in which to take breath in this finale, the soloist has much to say, and does so in spectacular fashion.

from notes by Christopher Fifield © 2010

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Details for CDA67791 track 4
Allegro moderato
Recording date
17 September 2009
Recording venue
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Goetz & Wieniawski: Piano Concertos (CDA67791)
    Disc 1 Track 4
    Release date: November 2010
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