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Profile for Dr. Gary Doherty > Reviews

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Dr. Gary Doherty

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Sparky's Magic Piano
Sparky's Magic Piano
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £3.59

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for pianists aged under 10 or over 40, 17 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Sparky's Magic Piano (Audio CD)
Aimed squarely at the under 10s and the over 40s, Sparky's Magic Piano is the story of an 8 year-old boy who has been having lessons for a year but is not too keen on practicing. During one lesson his teacher wishes she could show Sparky what it's like to play really well. After the lesson he falls asleep, dreams his piano can talk and by running his hands across the keys he can apparently play anything brilliantly. He embarks on a nationwide concert tour as a child prodigy, taking his magic piano with him. During last concert, the piano refuses to play for him and he wakes in a panic but, with the memory of how it feels to play well, he gets down to some serious practice.
Being in the latter age group I remember listening to Sparky on the radio (BBC Light Programme's "Children's Favourites") as a boy aged 8 who had been playing piano for about a year and dreamed of being able to play well. Every time I heard it I was inspired to practice. Hearing it again now - having played some of the pieces - brought tears to my eyes. This is a must-have for anyone who had piano lessons in the 50s/60s or has young children learning the piano. The Magic Baton does a good job of introducing children to the instruments of the orchestra. The other two tracks are fun but not music related.

Hermann Goetz: Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2
Hermann Goetz: Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2
Price: £9.60

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual romantic works that require multiple hearings, 17 Oct. 2005
Hermann Goetz (1840-1876) is a relatively unknown German composer who, despite living a short life and only starting regular musical studies aged 17, managed to compose two operas, two piano concertos, two symphonies, various songs, choral works, chamber music and works for solo piano. The two piano concertos presented here are definitely works of the romantic era but they have a distinct character of their own. They are structurally original inventions and while there are themes within the music, they are not developed in the usual way. This almost gives rise to music without a sense of direction - particularly in the second concerto - but this works very well once you get used to it. The nearest comparison I can give is with some of the lesser known works for piano and orchestra by Schumann such as the Introduction and Allegro appassionato Op. 92 or the Concert-Allegro with Introduction Op. 134. The piano writing is demanding, requiring a restrained virtuosity and great stamina as, in the second concerto, the piano is used both as an orchestral instrument and as the centre piece - sometimes both at the same time! Volker Banfield is more than up to the task, coupling tireless finger work with an innate sense of when to bring the piano to the fore and when to support the orchestra. Werner Andreas Albert and the Radio-Philharmonie Hannover des NDR play their parts well, welcoming the piano into the orchestra while allowing it free-reign when appropriate. The CPO recording has an appropriate warm acoustic with the piano and orchestra nicely balanced and the accompanying notes give plenty of information on the composer, pieces and artists. This CD will make an interesting addition to anyone's collection and, with the warning that these are not concertos you will get to know instantly, highly recommended.

Henselt & Alkan: Piano Concertos
Henselt & Alkan: Piano Concertos
Price: £13.94

17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well worth getting as the works are unusual and well played, 14 Nov. 2001
Neither Henselt nor Alkan are particularly well known, but both were excellent pianists, wrote exceptionally difficult music and had the misfortune to be overshadowed by their more illustrious contemporaries, namely Chopin and Liszt. The two works by Alkan are more like concertinos than concertos and tend towards the style of Mendelssohn and Weber. They are technically difficult, but Marc-Andre Hamelin is more than up to the task. Henselt's concerto is a real 'hum-dinger' of a piece and is the complete antithesis of (say) a Mozart concerto in that the piano is not playing 'in concert' with the orchestra. This is an out-and-out battle, a fight to the death, with the forces of the orchestra on one side opposing the piano on the other. It is a very exciting, dramatic and full-blooded romantic work with dynamics ranging from ppp to ffff. Here, I think Hamelin's playing style is not quite appropriate. Although he is technically excellent, he is just too refined and too accurate. This piece needs a 'dirty' player that brings out the blood and guts, something that is captured in recordings by the pianist Raymond Lewenthal. In summary it is well worth getting this recording as the works are unusual and well performed but the Henselt is let down by playing that is 'too good'.

The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 20 Brüll
The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 20 Brüll
Price: £14.67

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Give it time to grow on you, there is some lovely music here, 1 Oct. 2001
My favourite musical genre is the piano concerto and I am always keen to hear works new to me. I am particularly fond of romantic concertos, so I always buy any new additions to the Hyperion Romantic Piano Concerto series. I had not heard any of Brull's work before buying this CD and I played it with keen anticipation only to feel somewhat disappointed by the end. In general the music seemed rather naïve and the melodic line repetitive and predictable, particularly in the first concerto (possibly to be expected, as Brull was only 14 when he wrote it). Over the next few weeks I listened to the CD a few times and it gradually grew on me. I now enjoy it greatly. The best piece is the Andante and Allegro, written when Brull was much older, followed by the second concerto and then the first concerto. The playing, general musicianship and sound quality are what I have come to expect from Hyperion. In short, give it time to grow on you, there is some lovely music here - it just took me a while to hear it.

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