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Rubinstein: Piano Concerto No. 4; Scharwenka: Piano Concerto No. 1 Import

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Nov. 8 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B000B0XQPK
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1. Allegro Patetico
2. Allegro Assai
3. Allegro Non Taqnto - Allegro Patetico (Come Prima)
4. Moderato Assai
5. Andante
6. Allegro

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x98aec21c) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98d1bf18) out of 5 stars Hamelin Plays to the Hilt Nov. 18 2005
By Alscribji - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These two concertos, the Rubinstein 4th and the Scharwenka 1st, have been recorded in the past with noteworthy performances by Michael Ponti (Rubinstein, also recorded by Josef Hofmann) and Earl Wild (Scharwenka). Despite the energy in both of those recordings (and still highly recommended!) Hamelin delivers a performance that transcends both Ponti and Wild. With the opening chord of the Scharwenka you realize that Hamelin has full control of and confidence in this rare gem of a romantic piano concerto. His phrasing and technique are impeccable in the cadenza and heroic coda to the third movement. Hamelin also brings the Rubinstein concerto to new heights, another neglected concerto that has been resurrected by Hyperion. Hamelin's recording of the Rubinstein is a welcome re-evaluation of that composers music, music that has seen a recent resurgence. The perilous third movement is played with the greatest of ease and sound by Hamelin. The orchestra is led by Michael Stern (son of Isaac Stern) who conducts with a master hand. The production and sound quality could not be any better. Hamelin, Stern, and Hyperion do so much justice to these fantastic piano concertos. This recording would have to be definitive, both sound wise and performance wise.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99271bd0) out of 5 stars Fabulous Recordings March 28 2007
By David A. Wend - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Both of the concertos on this disc were once widely played but now are neglected despite their virtuoso powerhouse reputations. Xavier Schwarenka began as a largely self-taught pianist and composed as his concert schedule allowed. His first piano concerto was written during 1873 - 75 and played it for Franz Liszt who accepted the dedication, and also performed the work in 1877. Schwarenka did away with the fast-slow-fast typical movements of the concerto form by incorporating an Adagio into the first movement leaving the second movement as a scherzo-rondo. The powerful first movement begins with a bold introduction with the soloist entering with a brief phrase before restating the orchestral melody. The middle movement demands that the soloist have a quick touch and the dance rhythm of the movement provides a nice contrast to the stormy first movement. The finale returns to the mood of the first movement and is equally demanding on the soloist; the music has long lyrical passages that build in emotion. There is a dramatic cadenza that leads into an ecstatic conclusion.

Anton Rubinstein's Fourth Piano Concerto was widely played and included Paderewski and Rachmaninov among its advocates. It lapsed into obscurity and in recent years was taken up by Shura Cherkassky and Earl Wild. The Fourth (of eight) Concerto was written in 1864 and was revised in 1872. The first movement is expressive beginning with a soaring melody and includes an extended cadenza and the middle movement is a lyrical Andante offering the soloist expansive melodies. The final movement is closely based on a Polish dance with a dazzling (and difficult) part for the soloist with a refined second melody that recalls Mendelssohn and Schumann before retuning to the dance melody and ending the concerto with a flourish.

Marc-Andre Hamelin performs these two difficult concertos beautifully and is well-supported by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Michael Stern. This is a disc that I frequently play and will be of interest to anyone who loves piano concerti.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98b1b2b8) out of 5 stars Another hugely impressive installment in this superb series June 3 2009
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
At last, in volume 38, the cycle of Scharwenka concertos is completed - and while it might not be quite on the level of the fourth, the first concerto is still a splendid piece. It is - perhaps somewhat surprisingly - coupled with the (perhaps) best of Anton Rubinstein's five concertos, another memorable and inventive work from this composer, who had a knack for bold, strong melodies that remain throughout on just the right side of banality, giving rise to rather appealing and enjoyable wholes.

The appealing Scharwenka concerto is at its best in the fiery, more brilliant parts (the slow movement and the slower music of the first movement is, to be honest, sometimes a little meandering), but the whole thing adds up to a rather compelling whole. The Rubinstein makes a strong impression already with the purposeful, fierce first entry of the piano in the first movement, and manages to keep the interest up, even though it soon turns to more lyrical material. Rubinstein writes with a clear grasp of the longer lines, and is of course an expert piano writer, developing solo lines of various colors intertwining and blending into each other while never compromising the forward flow of the work. The slow movement is poetic, but centered around a darkly turbulent heart, and the last movement is a delightfully enjoyable tour-de-force of pianistic splendour (even though the stylistic gap is rather wide, you often get the uncanny feeling that Rachmaninov must have known this work rather well).

Hamelin does not disappoint; playing with an almost scary accuracy, yet bring more life and power and feeling into the music than one could hope for, tackling the rather challenging passages thrown at him not only with glittering brilliance, but panache - and always drawing focus to the music rather than the playing. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Michael Stern is impeccable as well, and the sound quality is excellent as always - strongly recommended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99adff3c) out of 5 stars Hamelin is simply without peer July 9 2012
By Greg Prohl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Anyone who appreciates the highest tier of piano virtuosity must know and love the recordings of Marc-Andre Hamelin, and this disc is right at the top of his already impressive mountain of performances. Others here may argue about the merits of the music itself being top-drawer or second rate or whatever. I say, who cares? When presented with musicianship of such high caliber, coupled with music that I personally find extremely attractive and let's say it, just plain fun to listen to, why quibble? Okay, maybe it's not music at the same level of intensity or depth as Beethoven or Brahms or...name your favorite here. How many things are? If you're content to listen to the eight-millionth recording of those same old warhorse concertos, more power to you. I prefer to search out other worthy alternatives of high quality such as this recording, which I have probably listened to at least 50 times since purchasing and have not tired of it one bit. The same could be said of virtually any disc in Hyperion's marvelous Romantic Piano Concerto series. I don't have them all, but of the 20 or so I do own I can say I've never been disappointed or wished I hadn't spent the money on a single one of them.

If you are a fan of either Hamelin or the romantic piano literature in general, BUY THIS DISC!! You won't be sorry.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98f101b0) out of 5 stars Hamelin shines in music that doesn't always July 9 2013
By Stanley Crowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
First, the reservations: I'm not totally happy with the piano/orchestra balance on this CD. It must be difficult, because you want to foreground the piano when so much is being asked of the pianist technically, but there are times here when the orchestra is either an amorphous wash of sound or simply too far back in the aural mix to have full effect. It never sounds bad, but it isn't consistent, and the ear picks that up. When solo orchestral instruments engage the piano, they are given prominence enough for us to appreciate their textures in dialogue with the piano, and there are many such nice moments. It occurs to me that I might be over-thinking the problem here: maybe the POINT of pieces like this is to get the audience into a kind of minute-by-minute responsiveness to exciting or gorgeous playing as a kind of bated breath or edge-of-ones-seat experience. If that's the case, then just sit back and enjoy this.

The most cogent and enjoyable movement to me is the scherzo-like finale of the Rubinstein Fourth. It has shape, wit, and drama, and Hamelin plays it with amazing panache. The other movements were enjoyable enough, and lovely or exciting in the moment without being particularly memorable. That's no fault of Hamelin's, for he earns his fee here. The Scharwenka First interested me less than the Rubinstein. There's more variety of mood within the movements, but my reservations with the balance struck me more in this concerto than in the other. Still, it's good to have these on record in such good performances. These are the necessary context for Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, and Prokofiev. What distinguishes the now-canonical works, by contrast with works like these on this disc, is their balance of virtuosity, shapeliness, and memorability of thematic material.