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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No 2 is the one!, 14 Aug 2009
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This review is from: The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 45 Hiller (Audio CD)
Ferdinand Hiller, a pupil of Hummel, was a prolific 19th century German composer and pianist who was highly respected in his time. As you might expect, these three concertos are not stylistically original, the obvious influences being Mendelssohn and Chopin, but the second and third concertos are superior to many of their type and are well worth getting to know.
The First Concerto(1829-31) is the least interesting. Its first movement has a striking main theme but the subsidiary material is less memorable and there is a fair amount of entertaining but rather empty virtuosity. The slow movement opens like a watered-down version of the slow movement from Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto and then contrasts lyrical and agitated material. The finale is the best movement. It's a rondo with an attractive and lyrical subsidiary tune.
The Second Concerto(1843) is the pick of these works. Far more tightly constructed and melodically memorable than the others, this compact piece eschews virtuosity for its own sake and, from its "sturm und drang" style opening until its tuneful finale it will keep you listening. This is a concerto which deserves a place in the concert repertoire.
The Third Concerto(1874) which, for many years, was thought lost is also worth getting to know. Known as the "Concerto Espressivo" it has a melodious and well-integrated sonata form opening movement with a particularly attractive second subject. The slow movement's minor key main theme seems rather plain at first but this is deceptive because throughout the movement Hiller continually varies it, allowing his imagination to lead the music where it will. The tune is finally heard in the major. The concerto ends with an exuberant finale.
These are splendid performances. Shelley rarely has to worry about competition because the repertoire he records is so rare but, even if this were not so, I cannot imagine these performances being bettered.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Typical but distinctive romantic concertos, 28 April 2010
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This review is from: The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 45 Hiller (Audio CD)
Like the reviewer before me, I was greatly impressed by this disc and equally impressed by Howard Shelley's peerless playing - matched by the orchestra and by Hyperion's fine recording.

Hiller seems to have been around throughout the entire "romantic" period and was well-known and, apparently, admired by so many of the composers we now place well ahead of him; Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt (whose early works Hller perceptively criticised for being too shallow, but who regularly showed his compositions to Hiller for the benefit of his opinion), Chopin, Berlioz and towards the end of his life even Brahms and Wagner.

I first came to the 2nd concerto through a Vox LP recording by Michael Ponti, but Shelley's new recording is superior both in recording quality and performance and, above all, in coupling it with the other two concertos.

For me, Hiller has far more talent and writes with more memorable melody and skilful orchestration than many of the composers represented in this Hyperion series, some of which I have to say I find quite banal.

Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in this type of repertoire.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent all round, 2 Aug 2012
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Paul Capell (Lancaster, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 45 Hiller (Audio CD)
Just when you would expect Hyperion to be scraping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, at number 45 in their wonderful series of Romantic Piano Concertos they come up with this fine disc.I agree with the other two reviewers in what they say and I will not repeat their comments except to say that Concerto No.2 is very fine and it has a lovely slow movement. Excellent all round!
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The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 45  Hiller
The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 45 Hiller by Howard Shelley (Audio CD - 2008)
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