Romantic Piano Concerto Vol. 56 (Piano Concerto No 2/ 3) (Hyperion: CDA67843) CD
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If the name Friedrich Kalkbrenner is familiar at all, its probably for his famous suggestion that Chopin would benefit from three years of study with him (a bold offer the Pole wisely turned down). But, as Hyperions ever-expanding Romantic Piano Concerto series has repeatedly shown, received historical opinion and musical quality dont always go hand in hand. With Volume 56 we reach the second and final instalment of Kalkbrenners concertos, dazzlingly played by Howard Shelley, directing the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra from the keyboard. For all that Kalkbrenner wasnt afraid to write big, bold orchestral introductions, its when the pianist makes his entry that you realize what a jawdropping player he must have been, with writing of such glittering, glistening panache that it must have had those polite salon ladies reaching for their smelling salts.
Shelley reminds us of why he is suited to this repertoire:the sparkling passagework is impeccably and suavely delivered...Kalkbrenner remains an interesting figure, and these works deserve attention. --International Piano,Mar/Apr 2012
The performances are undoubtedly of the highest calibre...and the recording captures every detail and refinement of Shelley's stunning performances. Kalkbrenner is lucky to have such distinguished exponents. --IRR, Mar'12
Friedrich Kalkbrenner (1785-1849) was a Franco-German composer-pianist whose reputation was eclipsed in his lifetime by Chopin and Liszt, among others. Though his music is variable in inspiration, Chopin liked him, so we can't quite ignore him. The best piece here is the Third Piano Concerto (1829), which delivers several structural surprises: there's no slow movement, though Kalkbrenner slots a self-contained nocturne into the opening allegro. The Second Concerto (1826) is grander and more conservative, while the Adagio and Allegro di Bravura (1830) was a model for Chopin's Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise four years later. Howard Shelley attacks it all with gleeful extravagance. He is also directing the Tasmanian Symphony from the piano as he plays music of often atrocious difficulty, which is something of a tour de force in itself. It's great fun. *** --Guardian, 08/03/12
Shelley is a formidable presence both as soloist and conductor --Gramophone,May'12
Top Customer Reviews
Friedrich Kalkbrenner (1785-1849) was another of those early 19th century pianists who composed concertos as vehicles for their own virtuosity. According to the notes which come with this disc he was born in a post-chaise somewhere between Berlin and Kassel and grew up at the court of Prince Heinrich in Rheinsberg where his father was choirmaster. Later he studied in Paris and also in Vienna where he played duets with Hummel and met Beethoven and Clementi. He also came to England, living in Bath and London where, apparently, he used to charge a guinea for 40 minute piano lessons, the highest rate in the city. He made more money by buying into the "Chiroplast", a mechanical device which was fitted to the piano and restricted vertical movement of the arms and wrists. He eventually returned to France dying near Paris in 1849, a victim of that year's cholera epidemic.
As a man, Kalkbrenner was famous for his vanity and the entertaining notes recount a number of amusing incidents which illustrate this. He told Chopin that "after my death or when I stop playing there will be no representative of the great pianoforte school". Clara Schumann thought that he always looked as though he were saying, "Oh, God, I and all mankind must thank Thee that Thou hast created a mind like mine!"
Yet there is no doubt that, as a pianist, Kalkbrenner had a fabulous technique. The piano writing in the concertos on this disc bear this out. He was not, however, a composer of the first rank and you should not investigate these concertos before you know those of his great contemporaries.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fine addition to the Romantic Piano Concerto series. Very well played and recorded.Published 5 months ago by Paul Thompson
Friedrich Kalkbrenner is a very pleasant surprise for an ear addicted to high quality piano notes. I strongly reccommend the cd.Published 19 months ago by Simo Nico
Gorgeous music. Kalkbrenner not a household name but his music is equal to the big names, Rachmaninov etc. True romantics.Published on 7 July 2014 by Valerie Thame
Lovely music first heard a couple of weeks ago on classic fm. Arrived quickly and so easy to buy directly linked from classic fm websitePublished on 10 May 2014 by Mrs. Pamela A. Downey