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Piano Concerto No 4 in E major, Op 131
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Though shorter than the Third Concerto and more conservative in its structure, Herz’s Piano Concerto No 4 in E major Op 131 (1843) holds many surprises and unconventional passages. The pivotal material for the first movement (Allegro moderato) is the jaunty and infuriatingly catchy second subject introduced by the strings and woodwind in the lengthy exposition. It is subjected to a number of treatments during which Herz allows the soloist little time to pause for breath. The moment for this comes after a passage of trills and suspended harmonies of which Hummel would have been proud. This would seem to lead inevitably to the movement’s conclusion. Instead Herz proceeds with a transitional eight ritenuto bars, underlined by hushed timpani rolls, to a solo passage in G major marked Lento e senza tempo, come una improvisazione.

After a cadenza, this in turn takes us without pause to the slow movement in C major—Andante cantabile in 9/8—and another of Herz’s simple, delectable melodies. The second part of this theme (in E flat major) disturbs the tranquil waters with surging scales and arpeggios. Having repeated the process with a further procession of busy leggiero and espressivo passagework, the music drifts to a gentle conclusion.

To follow that, Herz offers a lively 2/4 ‘Russian Rondo accompanied by a clochette’ in E minor. Its irresistible course is contrasted not by a lyrical theme as in the archetypal Romantic concerto but by a sprightly repeated-note dance tune. Some brilliantly effective writing for the soloist leads to a tutti and a lusingando (again) bridge in which the clochette re-introduces the rondo theme. When the dance theme returns it is in E major, the key in which the work ends triumphantly.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2006

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Details for CDA67537 track 4
Allegro moderato
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-05-53704
Duration
9'20
Recording date
4 September 2004
Recording venue
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Recording producer
Ben Connellan & David Garrett
Recording engineer
Andrew Dixon
Hyperion usage
  1. Herz: Piano Concertos Nos 3, 4 & 5 (CDA67537)
    Disc 1 Track 4
    Release date: April 2006
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