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V33 Romantic Pno Cto


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Sept. 1 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B00009WQV0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #159,974 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor Op 56
2. Piano Concerto No 3 in C sharp minor Op 80

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Format: Audio CD
With colorful orchestration and a piano part naturally brilliant, these concerti are most interesting. As with all the recordings in this series by Hyperion, the works are at the very least enjoyable to listen to. Not all of them are classics, but many of them deserve a listen now and then.
The real value of this series is that now there is a comparison available. The standard 'war horses' of the concert stage deserve their fame, but these concerti also deserve a listen to. There are some real gems in this series, and if nothing else it underlines why the 'war horses' are perhaps of greater musical value.
Not every novel that is written is equal to War And Peace, or The Old Man And The Sea, but it sure is refreshing to read something different by a different author once in a while. The same applies to these unknown concerti.
Recommended, along with the other discs in the series.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Some of the greatest romantic piano concertos on offer Nov. 11 2005
By I. J. J. Nieuwland - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
If this recording proves anything, it is the randomness of the piano canon. For here we have two largely forgotten piano concertos that can hold their own against almost anything you throw at them - and are preferable to much that is recycled every season in many a concert hall.

Yet both of these Scharwenka concertos are very different. The second concerto is a fiery affair, a proper vehicle for the soloist to show her skills. Number three, on the other hand, is perhaps the most contemplative of the Scharwenka concertos, with an uncharacteristically laid-back, but truly moving adagio.

Both are very demanding on the soloist, but Tanyel, so obviously at home with this repertoire, pulls off a splendid performance, as do Strugala and his orchestra. The second concerto has also been recorded by Laurence Jeanningros with Paul Freeman conducting the Czech National Orchestra, but the results are comparable and this is probably the more attractive coupling (Jeanningros' is with the more immature first concerto). Highly recommended.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic Recording-Tanyel's Best!!! Feb. 1 2008
By Darin Tysdal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I reviewed this CD under it's first incarnation on the Collins Classics label. That disc had a small blemish on it, so I was overjoyed that Hyperion was able to get the rights to rerelease this disc. It was even lost in my extensive CD collection and it took me about 2 weeks to find it in another CD case! I would have rebought it if I hadn't found it, because I really love this recording. Because of it, I want to learn the 2nd concerto and perform it someday. It is really influenced by the Beethoven 3rd concerto, but romanticized. The last movement was made famous by Raymond Lewenthal on an old Sony LP, but he also revised the ending because of the reference in the coda to the first movement. I much prefer the original version, as performed here. The 3rd concerto also has much to recommend it, and this is it's only recording to date. Scharwenka makes much out of the opening theme but somehow making it fresh. This work is more of a fantasia than anything else, but it is very strong thanks to Tanyel, Strugala and company. Heartily recommended!!!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
If you are a fan of Chopin and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concertos, you are likely to enjoy this. If you are not... June 26 2011
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Xaver Scharwenka maintains a fringe presence - on record, if not in the concert hall - mainly through his piano concertos, part of that batch of second-league romantic concertos that seem to be used mainly as a vehicle for the display of digitial prowess by the great piano virtuosos of the 1970s like Raymond Lewenthal (The Concert Recordings- Liszt: Totentanz / Rubinstein: Concerto No. 4 / Henselt: Concerto in F / Scharwenka: Concerto No. 2 / Alkan: Solo Works), Michael Ponti (The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol.3), Earl Wild (Scharwenka: Piano Concerto No. 1; Paderewski: Piano Concerto; Balakirev: Reminiscences of "A Life for the Czar", Paderewski / Scharwenka Piano Concertos; there are other entries for the same) or these days Stephen Hough (Scharwenka: Piano Concerto No. 4 in F minor; Sauer: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor) and Marc-André Hamelin (Rubinstein: Piano Concerto No. 4; Scharwenka: Piano Concerto No. 1). Nonetheless, it is through his chamber music that I first encountered Scharwenka's music (see my review of Chamber Music Complete). Of it, I commented that, when it came to chamber music, there seemed to be no "minor" romantic composers, as opposed to the "major" ones like Brahms or Schumann or even Franck: an observation I made with Taneyev, Arensky, Zarebski, Lalo, Saint-Saens, Fauré...

So I decided to pursue my explorations of Scharwenka's music, which has been well-served by Seta Tanyel and the now defunct Collins Classics label (4 volumes of solo piano music and two with the Piano concertos - strangely Piano Concerto No. 1 is paired with Chopin's first, Piano Concerto 1, and Collins never recorded No. 4), and has now been reissued by Hyperion (except, apparently, the first Piano Concerto). The rest didn't yield the same high dividends, however. With his music for solo piano I understood what made Scharwenka, after all, a "minor" romantic composer: it all sounded very derivative - and derivative of everybody of note, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms - without the unique melodic, rhythmic or harmonic invention of any.

I'm afraid I can't be much more positive about these two concertos. I'm not sure I had ever heard any of Scharwenka's piano concertos, but, through which biased preconception I don't now, I pictured them as hollow displays of flimsy virtuosity - lots of notes, but not much music that leaves a mark in one's memory. Well, now that I've heard them, that's exactly how they sound to me.

The liner notes of the original Collins release (which is what I have) muse at why, among the hundreds of "big romantic piano concerto[s]" that were produced during the second half of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century, "only a mere handful, scarcely into double figures, feature with any regularity in today's concert programmes" [wait, let me count: Chopin's two and Mendelssohn's two were composed way before 1850 so they are not in the count, and those of Mendelssohn are anyway hardly staples of the repertoire. So that leaves Liszt x 2 - let's include the first, although it was completed in 1849 -, Schumann, Brahms x 2, Grieg, Tchaikovsky... who's missing? Are they counting Rachmaninoff's four, although not all four are regularly programmed? Maybe Liszt's Totentanz - completed in 1849 but revised later - and Hungarian Fantasy were thrown into the cauldron, with Franck's Symphonic Variations?], an "unjustifiable neglect" given that the music "is in many cases well written and, above all, unashamedly tuneful and appealing to the listener".

Well, independent even of the harmonic and orchestral richness in which it is enshrined, it may be difficult to describe and define what makes a certain melodic invention distinctive (Brahms, Tchaikovsky) or not (Scharwenka) - but on hearing you recognize immediately if it is or not. The orchestral introduction to the second Piano Concerto sounds to me like the hack overture to any opera written at the time - or rather, thirty years before, since the concerto dates from 1880. The piano is full of grand and loud gestures that I find long on bombast and short on substance, and overall the orchestra is mere filling - ever a problem with romantic piano concertos it seems, and that in my opinion was solved only by Brahms and Tchaikovsky.

And God knows, I tried. Not being able to fix my attention on anything on first (and repeated) hearings, I even went to the International Music Scores Library Project to download the score (incidentally, I bow in gratitude to the IMSLP for making all these scores available; in fact, I've done better than that: I've put my wallet where my heart is and donated to the IMSLP). Anyway, listening with score certainly helped me concentrate on the details and attentively follow from beginning to end, only to realize how imitative of Chopin the piano writing in the first movement is - but the early, Bellini-inspired Chopin - and how overlong the movement is: turning page after page of score, I grew ever more impatient hoping to see the final double bar, and it seemed never to show up. Finally it came after 20:30 minutes and 71 of the score's 125 total pages. The second movement is a quasi-imitation of the same slow movement from Chopin's Second, including the famous trills. Sure, I guess you can call it pretty, in a sentimental and superficial way -as in Chopin's concerto. It only proves that the music needs to have something more to it than just "prettiness" to stab an emotion in your heart and make an imprint in your memory. The slow movements of Brahms' concertos are not "pretty", they are so sublime as to make you withhold your breathing. But, OK, I've stated out clearly my biases here - I am no fan of Chopin's concertos, either. But evidently, the lovers of Chopin's 2nd Concerto - and I know there are lot of those out there - are likely to find much to love in Scharwenka's. I have to agree with Raymond Lewenthal(if his opinion as reported one of the reviewers of the disc's other entry is true) that the third movement (the finale) is better, a lively rondo based on a Polonaise theme (although acknowledging that Schwarwenka had no Jewish family connections, the liner notes find it "slightly Yiddish"; I don't, although there is a certain ingratiating little grace note that I understand one could find "slightly Yiddish"), submitted to a pianistic treatment that I find more Lisztian than Chopin-derived: it does leave an imprint, although it is interspersed with more Bellini-derived quasi-Chopin, when not adumbrations of Rachmaninoff.

The main interest of the third Piano Concerto from 1899 is that it sounds to me like Tchaikovsky at his most (alternately) bombastically and charmingly hollow. But in fact, this one is a case where following with the score has helped, not just notice the cyclical return of some themes in all three movements, but enjoy more Scharwenka's grandiloquent gestures in the first movement (and their return in the third) - and I do love Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto after all, and even Khachaturian's, so it is not that I am impervious to grandiloquence. It also helped take notice of the fine, longing (and very Russian-sounding, something like Oneguin's yearning) theme at 2:55 in the finale. And hey, wow, IMSLP has a copy with a manuscript dedication by Scharwenka to Moriz Rosenthal! Uploaded by the Sibley Library of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, thank you people! However, even the score didn't make me enjoy more the sentimental gestures, the sub-par Tchaikovsky ballet music in the first movement, the would-be wistful-to-passionate tunes for the salon of the slow movement, the pastoral and insouciant merriment of the finale's main theme - the stuff that some of Mahler's Menuettos are made of, but there is so much more orchestral invention and science in Mahler!

The other reviewers seem to think that Tanyel and Strugala would have made these Concertos better works if they had played them 10 or 20 % faster. Quite frankly, I doubt it. It is difficult to give an informed opinion on the interpretation in the absence of alternative versions, but what I can say from following with the scores is that they play with accuracy: all that I see on the score I can hear on the recording. Also, I do have Raymond Lewenthal's version of the finale of No. 2. If, comparing the timings (8:17 against 9:10), you are under the impression that Lewenthal plays it faster - wrong: he makes a big cut at the end and re-writes the coda; the approach to tempo is very similar to Tanyel's. But there is a metallic edge to Lewenthal's piano and to the orchestra that makes it a less than entirely pleasurable experience, and frankly, Tanyel plays it with more subtlety. It somehow sounds more hollow music with Lewenthal.

Listeners fond of the concertos of Chopin or Rachmaninoff are likely to enjoy these concertos more than I did. The original Collins release is here, Piano Concertos 2 & 3. Note that it sells for very cheap on the UK sister company. For the links to the other installments of Tanyel's Scharwenka traversal, both on the original Collins Classics label and its Hyperion reissues, see in the comments hereunder.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful Virtuoso Performances May 28 2011
By ZenVortex - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Seta Tanyel delivers yet another virtuoso performance of Scharwenka's music. The second concerto is excellent but inferior to Michael Ponti's magical interpretation. Nevertheless a welcome addition to the genre. Tanyel's performance of the third concerto is also excellent and reveals many beautiful nuances of this outstanding but hitherto forgotten work.

Scharwenka was one of the most brilliant and influencial composer/performers of the late 19th century, whose best solo piano compositions were equal in quality to those of Chopin and whose concerti were superior. Afficionados of the Romantic Era will share my gratitude to Tanyel for her pioneering efforts in bringing Scharwenka's music back into the repertoire. Bravo Seta!
10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, If Not Great Music Jan. 24 2004
By Alan Beggerow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
With colorful orchestration and a piano part naturally brilliant, these concerti are most interesting. As with all the recordings in this series by Hyperion, the works are at the very least enjoyable to listen to. Not all of them are classics, but many of them deserve a listen now and then.
The real value of this series is that now there is a comparison available. The standard 'war horses' of the concert stage deserve their fame, but these concerti also deserve a listen to. There are some real gems in this series, and if nothing else it underlines why the 'war horses' are perhaps of greater musical value.
Not every novel that is written is equal to War And Peace, or The Old Man And The Sea, but it sure is refreshing to read something different by a different author once in a while. The same applies to these unknown concerti.
Recommended, along with the other discs in the series.


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