WORKS: Piano Concerto in B flat minor
PERFORMER: Martin Roscoe (piano); BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67354
Vol. 31 of this award-winning Romantic Piano Concertos series is a rare disappointment. The single concertos by the Austrian Robert Fuchs (1847-1927) and, to a lesser extent, Friedrich Kiel (1821-85), are hardly forgotten masterpieces. There are plenty of other candidates far more worthy of consideration, begging for Hyperion’s magic wand to be waved over their dusty pages.
You can’t fault the magic wand of Martyn Brabbins, the sincere advocacy of the superlative Martin Roscoe nor the spirited and sensitive playing of the BBC Scottish band. But, really, the Fuchs Concerto, composed 1879-80, is so much Teutonic bluster masquerading under the guise of profundity, full of ideas that Brahms might have wisely discarded, but borrowing freely from the master’s muse – see how many figures from his First and Second Concertos you can spot during the lengthy (17-minute) stop-start first movement.
Compared with that, the Kiel Concerto (1864) has a refreshing lyricism and a deal more charm. Beethoven is much in evidence here, with reflections of John Field and, in the likeable finale, Chopin. But, again, it’s a work that falls short of the musical quality and interest of this series at its best. Jeremy Nicholas