Korngold, Marx

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Korngold,Marx
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Piano Concerto for the Left Hand; Romantic Piano Concerto in E
PERFORMER: Marc-André Hamelin (piano)BBC Scottish SO/Osmo Vänskä
Joseph Marx’s ‘Romantic Piano Concerto’ is the perfect piece for Hyperion’s series of the same name. Lusciously melodic, thickly scored and riddled with intricate virtuoso passagework for the soloist, it is unusual, deeply rooted in the 19th-century concerto tradition – and hugely enjoyable. This is its first recording, and Marc-André Hamelin’s exceptional pianism ensures that it gets a first-rate rendering. Korngold’s massive one-movement concerto for left hand alone, premiered in 1924, is an inspired coupling, showing precisely where Marx’s no-holds-barred Romanticism led. Listeners new to this work may at first be baffled by its multitude of continuous sections and atmospheres. Help is at hand here, though: sensible track divisions, helpfully guided by Brendan Carroll’s booklet notes. Hamelin captures the work’s full range of drama, its huge rhetorical gestures and the incipient violence of its emotional life. The sweep of the opening theme, the deep tenderness of the second subject and the weirdly mystical worlds of the concerto’s onward journey are all sensitively shaded, with a touch that never loses its beauty even in the most powerful passages. Full marks to the orchestra for effort. Jessica Duchen