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Romantic Piano Concertos, Vol.4 CD

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Performer: Stephen Coombs
  • Orchestra: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Jerzy Maksymiuk
  • Composer: Anton Stepanovich Arensky, Sergei Bortkiewicz
  • Audio CD (1 Jan. 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B000002ZS2
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,385 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Allegro Maestoso
  2. Andante Con Moto
  3. Scherzo-Finale: Allegro Molto
  4. Fantasia on Russian Folksongs
  5. Lento - Allegro deciso
  6. Andante Sostenuto
  7. Molto vivace e con brio

Product Description

Product Description

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Review

'A model issue from a source which has become a byword for the best in enterprise'. --Gramophone

'Coombs's unimpeachable musicianship and authority carry all before it' --Piano International

'Coombs is an artist of great sensitivity and effortless virtuosity, and he makes the best possible case for both' --The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Arensky is probably the better known of the two composers featured here and his piano concerto and Fantasia are perfectly enjoyable if not terribly memorable compositions. But the chief attraction of this coupling is undoubtedly the first piano concerto of Bortkiewicz. Its opening is deceptively gentle for it soon builds into a lush and dramatic, one might even say cinematic, barnstormer with some striking thematic material and an insidiously memorable "big tune" that appears in the opening movement as well as closing the work. If you have a soft spot for, say, Rachmaninov's second, or those cinematic Rachmaninov pastiches like the Warsaw Concerto and the Dream of Olwen, then you'll love the Bortkiewicz. Performance and recording are both excellent.

Postscript to the above. Bortkiewicz's 1st piano concerto was long regarded as a "fun piece", something to be enjoyed but not taken too seriously. But when his two magnificent symphonies, postdating the 1st concerto by over 20 years, resurfaced a few years ago they alerted us to the truth that here was a composer of real substance. My attention has been drawn to the recent recording of his 2nd and 3rd piano concertos (see comment attached to this review), and having listened to them my admiration and enthusiasm for Bortkiewicz are reinforced. The performances are dazzling and the lushly dramatic music, permeated with Bortkiewicz's distinctive vein of yearning nostalgia, is closer in harmonic style to the more technically advanced symphonies. The 2nd concerto for the left hand is surely the equal of Ravel's and far more attractive. And you may wonder why his magnificent 3rd isn't a regular in the concert hall. Listen to its rousing climax and you'll be cheering.
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Format: Audio CD
This is one of the best discs in this fabulous series introducing music lovers to long-forgotten concertos we NEVER get the chance to hear in the concert hall. The highlight of the disc is the Bortkiewicz concerto. Until this recording came along it was only available in a (very rare) truncated version on LP and coupled with Busoni's 'Indian Fantasy'. This is an utterly gorgeous recording of the full score. Just why the piece has not been taken up by other pianists and performed in concert is a mystery. Full of lush, late Romantic melodies it (and Bortkiewicz's other two concertos) is certainly on a par with those of Rachmaninov. Listening to the piece (stupidly, I think described as a 'fun piece') you wonder why it was not taken up by film makers to use as background music, it's long-breathed melodies full of sadness, regret and late-romantic angst. As the notes state it is, although written decades before, redolent of the grainy black and white films of the 1940s so beloved of the directors of the time. And that is probably the reason for its sniffy and sneering reception by 'superior' so-called music lovers who dismiss it as 'Hollywood music' not realising it had been written long before that place was even a twinkle in the eyes of movie moguls. I note that, at last, the score is to be published by Musikproduktion Juegan Hoeflich which hopefully will encourage performances. The two Arensky works on the disc are slightly better known - they've both been recorded before - and make a superb coupling. Like so many Russian composers of the period Arensky has been overshadowed by his contemporaries yet his music his as good as or even better than some of theirs. The two works on the disc are, I think, preferable to the later Piano Concertos of Glazunov for example. It's a sad reflection on today's concert programming that no-one thinks to put these 3 works on the bill instead of the ubiquitous Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov concertos. Go out and buy!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 10 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Melodies, Lush Orchestration 24 Dec. 2009
By ZenVortex - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Bortkiewicz concerto is one of great treasures of the late Romantic period. Wonderful, soul-stirring music with beautiful melodies and lush, dramatic orchestration. The concerto has a big, powerful sound like Rachmaninov #2 with lots of brass and complex sequences of passionately emotive piano chords. The Arensky concerto is also first rate and it is obvious that pianist Steven Combs and the orchestra poured their hearts and souls into this excellent recording. Highly recommended.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Romantic Obscura 12 April 2001
By Daniel G. Berk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
If you enjoy a romantic piano concerto but feel, sadly, that you have exhausted the venue, take heart and take a listen to the two included on this CD. The Arensky concerto was composed while he was a student at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and clearly owes a debt to Tchaikovsky.
This is the first recording of the complete Bortkiewicz concerto. He too studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, but he also studied at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he came under the influence of the conservative German tradition.
The two piano concerti are worth visiting. Arensky's fantasia is extra icing.
This CD provides ample evidence that there are many little known composers whose work is very worthy of examination.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Unknown Piano Concerto 28 Mar. 2011
By Edgar Self - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Sergei Bortkiewicz's First is one of the great unknown piano concertos, along with Castellon, Moszkowski, and Andre Mathieu's Fourth. I can't imagine a better performance than Stephen Coombs's. A casual listener might take it for Tchaikovsky's Fourth or Rachmaninoff's Fifth. An uncasual one will hear delightful reminders of them, and yes the swans put in an appearance, just as they do in Tchaikovsky's second concerto. Arensky's pieces are interesting, but Bortkiewicz's is a real discovery.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A positively delightful feast for the ear! 28 April 2012
By Baxterblogger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This CD is absolutely wonderful! It contains three little-known (to me) works, two by the unjustly neglected Anton Arensky and one by Sergei Bortkiewicz, a composer about whom I know nothing and whose music, apart from this CD, I have never heard. But if this is typical of Bortkiewicz's style, his music is well worth exploring. The Arensky Piano Concerto is a fine piece and his "Fantasia on Russian Folksongs" is delightful! Bortkiewicz's First Piano Concerto is a worthy addition to the album. I recommend this CD to those who love music in the style of Tschaikowsky in particular and to those who are confirmed fans of late Romantic music.
5.0 out of 5 stars TWO--NO, THREE--WONDERFUL WORKS 25 Feb. 2009
By Terry J. Lehane - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Arensky (1861-1906) and Bortkiewicz (1877-1952) are at their thought provoking best. If you are familiar with Bortkiewicz' two Symphonies, then you know what capable hands you are in. His Concerto is laced with lovely soulful themes. I listen to these works over and over. If you are not familiar with Bortkiewicz' two Symphonies, even more pleasures await you there.
Thank you, Hyperion.
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