Lyapunov: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Concerto No. 2; Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes

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COMPOSERS: Lyapunov
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Concerto No. 2; Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes
PERFORMER: Hamish Milne (piano); BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67326
Vol. 30 in Hyperion’s Romantic Concerto Series offers yet another programme that makes incomprehensible the narrow choice of 19th-century piano concertos heard in our concert halls today. Equally inexplicable is why such an arresting work as Lyapunov’s First Piano Concerto has had to wait until now for its first recording. Imbued with Borodin, Balakirev and Liszt it may be, but Lyapunov, as in his almost contemporaneous Transcendental Studies, emerges with a wholly individual voice. The Second Concerto, too, also in a Lisztian one-movement cyclic form, and recently given a no less splendid recording by Howard Shelley (Chandos), surely merits a wider hearing. The virtuoso Rhapsody is among the finest of its kind, its four contrasted sections reaching a thrilling climax, here receiving a performance that almost rivals Michael Ponti’s exuberance on Turnabout.

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How appropriate that the soloist should be one of the greatest living champions of Russian repertoire. In even the most rhetorical passages, Hamish Milne digs beneath the surface, despatching Lyapunov’s frequently fiendish episodes of barnstorming bravura with the same eloquence as his wistful folk musings. Hyperion’s usual team of Martyn Brabbins, his Scottish players and producer Andrew Keener is on hand to uphold the award-winning standards of this series, complemented by Edward Garden’s erudite notes. Jeremy Nicholas