Weber: Piano Concertos CD
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Carl Maria von Weber : Concerto pour piano & orch. n° 1, J98 (Op. 11) - Concerto pour piano & orch. n° 2, J155 (Op. 32) - Konzertstuck pour piano & orch., J282 (Op 79) / Nikolai Demidenko, piano - Scottish Chamber Orchestra, dir. Sir Charles Mackerras
'Brilliant performances' --Classic CD
'Scintillating performances' --Piano International
'Unmitigated joy ... I haven't enjoyed a concerto record more all year' --The Sunday Times
Top Customer Reviews
Sir Charles Mackerras was a conductor of very great experience, and the orchestra (new to me) rises splendidly to the challenge. The recording catches all the nuances of Weber's always colourful orchestration. The balance between orchestra and piano is excellent.
Nikolai Demidenko turns in a performance of the very greatest elegance and sophistication. His background in performing music of this period gives him a deep understanding of the genre, and those who are intested should investigate his excellent recordings of the piano music of Clementi and Vorisek. His passage work, legato and phrasing are things of great beauty, and a model to all pianists who have struggled with this brilliant music.
I forget which composer it was that said 'I write music to bring joy to the world'. It could have been Weber.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Third, there is the music. Weber was a virtuoso but also a composer of great skill, which can't be said of many of the composer-pianists of the 19th century. His Konzertstuck is an acknowledged classic of Romanticism. Despite the fact that its program--dealing with a knight's departure for the war, rumored death, and triumphant return to his beloved--is provides pretty threadbare storyline, the music is anything but threadbare, the first movement brimming with minor-key drama and the last, a fantasia on a march theme, a tour de force for both pianist and orchestra. But Weber's two concertos are pretty wonderful stuff, too, with infectiously bouyant fast movements (especially the Second Concerto's last movement) and slow movements full of proto-Romantic innigkeit.
Go for this one.
On this recording of Carl Maria von Weber's first and second Piano Concertos, we get something that sounds like a cross between what a piano concerto would have sounded like if Schubert and Mendelssohn had collaborated. Charming doesn't really seem to describe these pieces, but especially on the slow movements you get Romantic that at times seems to have been inspired by Mozart. But as soon as you make the connection in your head, Weber takes you to this place of romantic whimsy - definitely early romantic period. The pieces are sumptuous at times, you will find yourself humming the melodies. My only experience with von Weber prior to listening to these recording was with the Oberon Overture. No matter how obscure these pieces are today, I agree with another reviewer that found these recording to be among the best in Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto Series.
Pianist Nikolai Demidenko plays these as well as any of the more famous, big name pianists you will find on the major labels. A big fan of the Naxos recordings, I learned a long time ago that Sony, Decca, and Philips do not have a monopoly on talent. At times his performances remind me of what you'd hear on the Mercury Living Presence recordings... if those had made in the digital age. The Adagio, second movement of Concerto # 2 is one of the most haunting piano recordings I've heard. His playing really defies comparison. Which leads me to my next point.
The Hyperion engineers did a fabulous job recording the piano with the perfect short delay that makes you feel like you are listening to these pieces from a small concert hall fifteen rows back from the stage. It is a smaller, more intimate sound which to my ears is perfectly fitting for these pieces. The balance between orchestra and piano are perfect, and muted strings, woodwinds, and brass all come through perfectly. Not all strings and tympani.
Superb sound and performance. Based on this recorded, I've decided to start collecting the entire set of Romantic Piano Concerto recordings on Hyperion. I have been impressed with the sound quality from this label. Simply stunning.