WORKS: Piano Concerto in C minor. Op. 55
PERFORMER: Piers Lane (piano); BBC Scottish SO/Niklas Willén
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67086
Hyperion’s ‘Romantic Piano Concerto’ series offers ample proof of the importance of the virtuoso in 19th century music and musical life. This disc represents the twenty-first issue, no less, and the performers bring an enthusiastic freshness and vitality to the project. Both concertos employ the classical three-movement format with standard orchestration, and were written in order to advance the careers of composer-performers.
Theodor Kullak (1818-1882) worked in Germany, particularly Berlin, and was noted as a teacher. His music received a more mixed reception, however, but since he was quite prolific perhaps this concerto represents one of his creative successes. The music is skilfully crafted and well paced, and both taxes and rewards the soloist. Textures are well balanced, developments fluent; it is all very well written. Anyone who enjoys, say, the concertos of Chopin, will enjoy Kullak’s concerto.
Alexander Dreyschock (1818-1869) composed prolifically; this concerto is his opus 137. He hailed from Bohemia and travelled widely, building his reputation as virtuoso. And virtuosity is the priority of his D minor Concerto, to which, in his accompanying note, the pianist Piers Lane ascribes ‘a champagne brilliance’. Lane’s performance is brilliant, too, and the orchestra and recording engineers acquit themselves admirably. Terry Barfoot