Hyperion Records

Piano Concerto No 2 in E flat, J155 Op 32
According to his diary, Weber bought a copy of Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ in early 1811. His response was to write a concerto not just in the same key, but complete with a partially muted string Adagio in B major and a rumbustiously galloping closing rondo in 6/8. The E flat Concerto is both Weber’s ‘Emperor’ and an eloquent Beethoven homage. Virtuoso keyboard figuration (arpeggios, octaves, thirds) and an optional cadenza (here improvised by the soloist) profile the first movement. The romantic Adagio Benedict called ‘a gem’. Its gran espressione, ringingly projected melody and powerful chordal climax, is unforgettable. On the one hand, the rondo (written first, in the autumn of 1811) deals in extrovert gestures and a wide-skipping, physically involving refrain. On the other, it is concerned with an extraordinary species of teasing, fragmented orchestration—witness the strange clarinet, flute and cello solos in the episode beginning bar 118, together with the subsequent (unpredictable) redistribution between piano and violin (bars 251 and following). The Second Concerto was a favourite ‘visiting card’ of Weber’s. He played it often, always to popular acclaim.

from notes by Ates Orga © 1995

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