- Audio CD (Sept. 1 1998)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Hyperion UK
- ASIN: B000002ZSH
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
|1. Piano Concerto In C Sharp Minor Op. 30: Moderato - Allegretto quasi polacca|
|2. Piano Concerto In C Sharp Minor Op. 30: Andante mosso|
|3. Piano Concerto In C Sharp Minor Op. 30: Allegro|
|4. Piano Concerto No. 1 In F Sharp Minor Op. 1|
|5. Piano Concierto No 2 In E Flat Major, Op. Posth.: Allegro non troppo|
|6. Piano Concierto No 2 In E Flat Major, Op. Posth.: Adagio|
|7. Piano Concierto No 2 In E Flat Major, Op. Posth.: Allegro risoluto|
That said, the other works on the disc are sheer gems. Rimsky's concerto from the 1880s is clearly a work of his "classical" period, which also brought forth his underrated Third Symphony. In these works Rimsky tried to expiate the sins of an earlier period when he was naive enough to compose a suite called "Antar" and dub it his Second Symphony. (Suite or symphony, it's a fine work.) For those who think only of Scheherazade or Capriccio Espagnol when they hear Rimsky's name, the Concerto may be a bit of a letdown, or at least a puzzlement. But it is a finely crafted work whose variations on a Russian folk tune are tasteful and never less than inventive. For Rimsky, the orchestration is modest though colorful and, as one would expect, fully expert. The work builds to a jubiliant little finale that reminds me of Franck's Symphonic Variations. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that Rimsky's work is not far inferior to Franck's much more celebrated piece.
More substantial is Balakirev's Second Concerto. It has a grand first movement with a truly memorable main subject, a tender slow movement, and a rousing finale in the best tradition of Russian festival music--think of the swaggering finales of Glazunov's best symphonies, such as the Fourth and Fifth. If the Second Concerto can't rival the Russian warhorses from Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, still, why isn't it heard more often?Read more ›
I feel that the only reason it is seen as so terribly below par is because it happens to be sandwiched between Rimsky-Korsakov's gorgeous Concerto in c-sharp minor and Balakirev's Concerto No. 2 in E-flat Major. Another interesting note is that while Balakirev's Piano Concerto No. 1 was written very early in his career, the Second Concerto was initiated in the middle of the composer's life, subsequently abandoned, only to be taken up again towards the end of his life. Indeed, it was finished by Lyapunov. To some degree, these works make an interesting set of bookends for Balakirev's career.
If this doesn't convince you of the value of the disc, perhaps the fact that the Balakirev First Concerto is also the shortest work on the disc (13'30") will. All in all, this disc is a must for any lover of piano concerti or Russian romantic nationalism.
The Rimsky-Korsakov concerto is a wonderfully satisfying piece, with a haunting, folklike theme, and with light virtuosity. It is a work of outstanding craftsmanship, if pehaps it does lack great depth. The first Balakirev concerto is not a good work by any means. It is filled with bad piano writing and over ornamentation of an otherwise beautiful melody. This is the only reason I do not give this CD a fourth or fifth star.
The second Balakirev concerto, however, is the entire reason one should buy this CD. It is a masterwork that is almost never performed. It exhibits great depth and is exceptionally played here.
It sometimes amazes me that of all the great concerti of the 19th century, so few are often played. The Beethoven 5th, and the pairs by Liszt, Chopin, and Brahms are all wonderful, but they do not merit the death of other equally great works.
This CD is worth buying.