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Track(s) taken from CDA67535

Piano Concerto No 4 in A flat major, Op 127


Howard Shelley (piano), Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Howard Shelley (conductor)
Recording details: May 2005
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Andrew Dixon
Release date: September 2006
Total duration: 28 minutes 10 seconds


'In Howard Shelley [Kalkbrenner] has found a pianist who not only relishes everything the composer throws at him, including ambuscades of double notes, but who plays with truly dazzling wit and style … Shelley's effortless bravura would surely have awed and piqued the composer himself' (Gramophone)

'Shelley's fearless and seemingly impeccable technique seems to match Kalkbrenner's ideal of good piano-playing perfectly. The sound is always beautiful, those endless runs at the upper end of the keyboard register delivered as if they came easily rather than being the formidable obstacle course that they really are' (International Record Review)

'Kalkbrenner's First Concerto offers a truly beautiful and atmospheric slow movement … it would be a boring world if we couldn't find an hour to listen to these musical layer cakes from a bygone age' (Pianist)

'Shelley draws committed and expressive playing from this fine ensemble [The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra], besides dispatching the demanding solo parts with unfailing élan' (International Piano)

'Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series is one of the most significant recording ventures in front of the public today … the standard of the Hyperion edition has been so high, and it has done so much to showcase both young and established talent, with such exceptional recording quality, that it remains without parallel. Anyone who revels in exploring the peripheries of the repertoire will enjoy this disc enormously' (MusicWeb International)

'You may well find yourself riveted as the composer springs one surprise after another. He sustains the 15 minutes of the opening movement effortlessly, through good tunes and brilliant keyboard showmanship, and if the music exists primarily to entertain it certainly does so with style and grace … Howard Shelley plays both works with the panache that they require, and given the fact that he seldom has much of a chance to take his hands off of the keyboard, the Tasmanian Symphony stays with him admirably every step of the way. Hyperion's sonics are also better than some other releases from this source, being well balanced and flattering to both soloist and orchestra … you may find them becoming staples at home' (Classics Today)

'Howard Shelley is a persuasive advocate, who apart from reconstructing the Fourth with Philip Littlemore, performs these pieces with a dazzling wit and style … I have a notion that Shelley's bravura might have unsettled even the composer himself, particularly in the Fourth's finale where the soloist's effortless command of the music is absolutely stunning. Amazingly, Shelley is able to conduct as well as play these concertos with the Tasmanian players wonderfully supportive' (Classical.net)
Between the First Piano Concerto and the Piano Concerto No 4 in A flat major Op 127 (1835) came Kalkbrenner’s Piano Concerto No 2, Op 80, his Piano Concerto No 3, Op 107, and the Grand Concerto for two pianos, Op 125, which appeared in the same year as Op 127. As well as a conventional line-up of strings and woodwinds, two trumpets and two horns, the score of the A flat Concerto has parts for alto, tenor and bass trombones.

Unlike the D minor Concerto, Kalkbrenner unleashes his soloist after a mere twenty bars (Maestoso brillante), allowing just two bars respite before the tutti at 5'47. At 6'48 a fermata concludes in E flat major; E flat becomes D sharp (the leading note into E major) and the tempo changes to Maestoso e poco più allegro. A brilliant episode in C major leads to the recapitulation and coda. After these breathless thirteen-plus minutes, the opening of the brief Adagio (the second movement) has the undercurrent of a funeral march. Though the key signature bears the four flats of A flat major, the music is in fact in A flat minor. There is an abrupt transition to E major at 1'39 and a dramatic passage at 3'22 taking us back to the home key. After a brief Presto flourish, the movement dies away. Robert Schumann described the Concerto as ‘manufactured pathos and affected profundity’; whether it is particularly apt for this Adagio must be a moot point.

The Rondo finale in 2/4 (Allegro non troppo) suffers from a series of somewhat vapid themes, though Kalkbrenner is adept at dressing them up in sparklingly effective writing for the soloist (and, incidentally, gives his underused trombones a few moments to shine). At 5'16 he modulates ingeniously in the space of a few bars from A flat to A major (seventh) to F sharp major and a fugal octave passage in B minor. The final pages throw rapid triplet runs, octave leaps and fast repeated notes at the soloist as, with increasing excitement, the Concerto rushes to its conclusion.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2006

Entre le Concerto pour piano no 1 et le Concerto pour piano no 4 en la bémol majeur, op. 127 (1835) vinrent s’intercaler le Concerto pour piano no 2, op. 80, le Concerto pour piano no 3, op. 107, et le Grand Concerto pour deux pianos, op. 125 (paru la même année que l’op. 127). Outre une disposition conventionnelle de cordes et de bois, outre deux trompettes et deux cors, la partition du Concerto en la bémol renferme des parties pour trombones altos, ténors et basses.

Contrairement à ce qui se passe dans le Concerto en ré mineur, Kalkbrenner déchaîne son soliste au bout de seulement vingt mesures (Maestoso brillante), ne laissant que deux mesures de répit jusqu’au tutti, à 5'47. À 6'48, un point d’orgue conclut en mi bémol majeur; mi bémol devient ré dièse (la sensible mi majeur) et le tempo passe à Maestoso e poco più allegro. Un brillant épisode en ut majeur mène à la reprise et à la coda. Après ce passage haletant de plus de treize minutes, l’ouverture du bref Adagio (le deuxième mouvement) a des allures sous-jacentes de marche funèbre. Quoique l’armature affiche les quatre bémols de la bémol majeur, la musique est en réalité en la mineur. À 1'39, une brusque transition en mi majeur survient et, à 3'22, un passage dramatique nous fait retrouver la tonalité mère. Passé une brève fioriture Presto, le mouvement se meurt. Robert Schumann dit de ce concerto qu’il était d’un «pathos fabriqué et d’une profondeur affectée»; que ces mots conviennent particulièrement à cette section reste discutable.

Le finale à 2/4 (un Rondo Allegro non troppo) souffre d’une série de thèmes assez insipides, même si Kalkbrenner sait les enjoliver d’une écriture solistique à l’efficacité étincelante (soit dit en passant, il offre ainsi à ses trombones sous-exploités quelques instants d’éclat). À 5'16, il module ingénieusement, en l’espace de quelques mesures, de la bémol à la majeur (septième), à fa dièse majeur et à un passage en octaves fugué, en si mineur. Les pages finales lancent au soliste des passages rapides en triolets, des sauts d’octave et des notes rapides répétées alors que, en proie à une excitation accrue, l’œuvre se précipite vers sa conclusion.

extrait des notes rédigées par Jeremy Nicholas © 2006
Français: Hypérion

Zwischen dem ersten Klavierkonzert und dem Klavierkonzert Nr. 4 As-Dur op. 127 (1835) entstanden noch Kalkbrenners Klavierkonzerte Nr. 2 op. 80, Nr. 3 op. 107, und das Grand Concerto für zwei Klaviere op. 125, das im gleichen Jahr wie op. 127 erschien. Neben der normalen Besetzung mit Streichern, Holzbläsern, zwei Trompeten und zwei Hörnern sieht die Partitur des As-Dur-Konzertes auch noch Alt-, Tenor- und Bassposaunen vor.

Im Gegensatz zum d-Moll-Konzert lässt Kalkbrenner den Solisten schon nach 20 Takten (Maestoso brillante) loslegen und erlaubt ihm nur zwei Takte Ruhepause bis zum Tutti bei 5'47. Bei 6'48 schließt eine Fermate in Es-Dur; das Es wird enharmonisch zu Dis (dem Leitton nach E-Dur), und das Tempo wechselt zu Maestoso e poco più allegro. Eine brillante Episode in C-Dur leitet über zur Reprise und zur Coda. Nach diesen atemlosen gut 13 Minuten folgt als zweiter Satz ein kurzes Adagio, das an einen Trauermarsch erinnert. Obwohl die vier bs als Vorzeichen auf As-Dur hinweisen, steht das Stück eigentlich in as-Moll. Nach einem plötzlichen Übergang nach E-Dur bei 1'39 werden wir bei 3'22 wieder zur Grundtonart zurückgeführt. In einer Presto-Passage flammt der Satz kurz vor Schluss nochmals auf und verklingt dann im pianissimo. Robert Schumann beschrieb das Konzert als „gewollt pathetisch und gekünstelt tiefgründig“. Ob dieses Urteil gerade auf diesen Satz zutrifft, mag dahingestellt bleiben.

Das abschließende Rondo im 2/4-Takt (Allegro non troppo) leidet etwas unter einer Reihe einfallsloser Themen, obwohl Kalkbrenner sie für den Solisten geschickt durch glitzernde und effektvolle Passagen aufputzt; dabei verleihen die sonst unterbeschäftigten Posaunen dem Satz für ein paar Augenblicke besonderen Glanz. Bei 5'16 moduliert er innerhalb weniger Takte geistreich von As-Dur nach A-Dur (Septime), dann nach Fis-Dur und in einer fugierten Oktavenpassage nach h-Moll. Auf den letzten Seiten sieht sich der Solist durch rasende Triolenläufe, Oktavsprünge und schnelle Tonrepetitionen gefordert, während das Konzert mit emotionaler Steigerung seinem Ende entgegenstürmt.

aus dem Begleittext von Jeremy Nicholas © 2006
Deutsch: Ludwig Madlener

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