Jadassohn; Draeseke

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Jadassohn; Draeseke
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2; Piano Concerto in E flat
PERFORMER: Markus Becker (piano); Berlin Radio SO/Michael Sanderling
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67636

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Three concertos, all written in the years 1885-7, by two Romantic-era composers of conservative tendencies who nevertheless admired the ‘New German’ music of Liszt and Wagner.

The works of Jadassohn (who was Jewish) were buried by the Nazis, who promoted those of Draeseke (who wasn’t), with dire results for the posthumous reputations of both.

Though it’s difficult to consider him a major musical mind, Felix Draeseke wrote impressive symphonic and chamber works; but his E flat Piano Concerto, marrying a flamboyantly post-Lisztian, note-stuffed solo part to a form distantly resembling Beethoven’s Emperor, is not one of his happiest throws.

Markus Becker and Michael Sanderling nevertheless turn in a defter, better-recorded performance than do Claudius Tanski and George Hanson on MDG, making the most of the melodious variation-slow movement and rumbustious finale.

Salomon Jadassohn (teacher of Albéniz, Delius, Grieg, Sinding and many others) cuts a more original figure in his two concertos: the fantasia-like First really earns the triumphant impetus of its concluding ‘Ballade’.

He is the wittier composer: no hint of academicism in the sugar-plum Romanticism of the three-movement Concerto No.2, with its teasing ‘is-it-a-slow-movement-no-it’s-a-scherzo-no-it’s-the-start-of-a-finale’ second movement. His thematic invention is stronger than Draeseke’s also.

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Altogether an enjoyable disc for those who would explore the unfrequented byways of Romanticism. Calum MacDonald