Top positive review
Full-blooded romantic concerto
on 24 October 2012
A neo-romantic piano concerto in the bravura style established by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov.
The first movement has a quicksilver quality that brings out Lang Lang's virtuosity. Shades of its romantic predecessors are instantly invoked, with lots of bravura passages,etc, against a background of orchestral interjections that sustain a forward momentum. The movement eventually quietens, the quicksilver flickers slow down, ending with the soloist's gentle musing.
With the slow movement, we come to the heart of the work. Again, the world of Rachmaninov, the Warsaw Concerto etc is not far away, but there is nothing wrong with a `good tune' (as Shostakovich shows in his `popular' Second Piano Concerto) and Hess delivers one here. This long-breathed melody is developed in the orchestra, and ends in a mood of pure poetry.
The finale is less successful. Its portentous opening promises much as it settles into a Waltonesque march, but it lacks that composer's sheer invention and the music becomes rather overblown and rhetorical as it progresses. In the closing bars there is some challenging writing for the first trumpet - brilliantly played here-but I was left rather disappointed with this final movement.