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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant performance of brilliant music!, 7 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Romantic Piano Concertos, Vol.15 (Audio CD)
Once discovered you will wish that Reynaldo Hahn had composed as much instrumental and orchestral music as he did for song, theatre and operetta.
Whilst I am not a trained musician, this masterpiece seems to allow little respite for the pianist from whom is demanded some extraordinary pianistic ability. Clearly not for the faint-hearted!
Said to be generally in a major key (E major), to my ear this is very unclear. From start to finish the thematic material entertains us with intervals, accidentals and key changes that surprise and delight. The orchestra often seeming beautifully dissonant with the piano.
In the first movement, what begins as the most simplest of motifs is developed and exchanged between the piano and orchestra and woven delicately, even against the occasional orchestral staccato type secondary theme. After a recapitulation the music enters a distinctive last section with further repeats of the original theme that develops into truly exciting finale to the first movement. One is left amazed!
The short second movement trips along in just as delightful and spirited fashion giving way to the last movement's sad, reflective and poignant theme drawn from the first movement. This material is also developed in the orchestra which juxtaposes with the original first movement theme on the piano. To me there seem many key changes that are delightfully un-subtle to coin a phase.
Eventually the final section determines that we are definitely back to the major. At last we think; but are we sure? More surprise and delight befalls us as the piano moves up and down scales - but what scales are these? However, major definitely arrives when restating the original themes and the music concludes with brilliant short crescendo. Truly a breathtaking musical experience.
The Hahn is rightly coupled with the Massenet as the latter was one of Hahn's teachers and the concerto shows that Massenet's teaching is very apparent in Hahn. Whilst there is little that is thematically similar there is a similarity in the approach to development and the interplay between the orchestra and soloist. An equally interesting concerto, Massenet does remain in the major and keeps the listener guessing more about how the material is going to develop rather that what key signature might be at any one time.
Both concertos are developed products of the late Romantic period and to me the Massenet appears less traditional than the Hahn concerto.
This recording delights throughout and it has been one of the greatest "finds" since I discovered Janacek in the early 60's.
I am so fond of this music I am determined to research more Hahn (and the more prominent Massenet of course).
Pity that there is so little; but we must revel in what Hahn kindly left us!
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Romantic Piano Concertos, Vol.15
Romantic Piano Concertos, Vol.15 by Reynaldo Hahn (Audio CD - 2000)
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