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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 34  Pierné
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on 11 May 2015
A fantastic piece of music which is, sadly, not played enough and seemingly very under-rated. It is so seldom played that it may never achieve the popularity it so richly deserves. Melodic, dramatic and very listenable! What more would anyone want from a piece of music. I have given several copies of this piece to my musical friends and they have all loved it without exception.
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on 21 February 2013
This is a fabulous series of neglected piano concertos, with releases now stretching back many years, and so many are delightful. The Pierne is particularl fun - melodic and romantic. A musical gem.
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on 29 May 2017
Excellent services in every way : promotion information, product, and delivery. Thank you.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 12 April 2014
Pierné was immensely distinguished in his lifetime both as a conductor and organist of note and as a composer. For this instrument he only wrote the Trois Pièces, as far as I know, but they are very good. Then there is the sublime Piano Quintet, recently released on Hyperion also, and a Trio that is meant to be of the same quality. The music on this disc falls slightly below this, no doubt, except for the Poème symphonique, which is quite inspired and very reminiscent of Franck with its opening chorale and subsequent chromatic nuances and elegant spacing in the keyboard, which often gives chords a wide span from top to bottom. The effect is very pleasing on the ear and it shows quite subtle melodic development. The Concerto is also a good piece, deserving a bigger audience, as it is sure to appeal to lovers of Rachmaninov - it has some luscious tunes that just soar, to wit the second subject of the first movement. The middle movement is a wonderfully light-footed scherzo modelled somewhat on the equivalent movement in Saint-Saëns Concerto no. 2. The other two works are enjoyable too, but less memorable. They form an excellent makeweight to the two more substantial pieces, however, and the whole issue, brilliantly played by Stephen Coombs (who also plays on the same label's excellent recording of Vierne's Piano Quintet, with the Hahn) can be strongly recommended to anyone who is interested in lesser known piano repertoire. The piano tone is admirably full and resonant as caught by the Hyperion engineers, and the sense of orchestral colour also makes the ear prick up repeatedly.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 January 2014
. . . and most effective in the scherzo-like music of the second movement of the Piano Concerto, the Fantasie-Ballet, and the Scherzo-Caprice, all composed before 1890, when Pierne was in his mid-to-late twenties. There are different kinds of playfulness at work in these pieces, and the orchestral accompaniment is appropriately relatively light. That said, however, the most impressive single piece on this disc is the "Poeme Symphonique" of 1903. It combines a solemn theme with more lyrical music very effectively, and the development is carried out by both piano and orchestra in expert fashion. The writing for the brass in the second half of the "Poeme" is particularly striking, though one wishes that the rest of the orchestral sound had a comparable warmth and clarity. That it doesn't might be the engineers' fault as much as Pierne's, for the piano is slightly favored in the aural picture, and the orchestra just a bit recessed. Stephen Coombs plays very well and is well caught by the recording, and Ronald Corp's shaping of all the music here is persuasive.

What of the Piano Concerto itself? I've mentioned the effective scherzo second movement (I would call it "cheeky"). The first movement starts with somewhat martial maestoso music, third cousin to the opening of Beethoven's "Emperor," and the lyrical theme that follows is a bit anti-climactic, but as the movement goes on, Pierne works both up into a strong, rather solemn statement that drives to a weighty peroration that seems to owe more to Franck than, say, Saint-Saens. That first movement music is carried into the third and final movement, where it receives further development. All in all, it's not exactly memorable, but for a 23-year-old's first effort, it's more than respectable. Thanks to Hyperion, Corp, and Coombs for resurrecting it!
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on 13 September 2013
The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were filled with many musical voices. Some of them were utterly original, others were more content to follow in the footsteps of styles and trends. Pierne fits into neither of these categories. At its best his music is gloriously joyful and at its worst slightly hackneyed. Thank goodness that this CD showcases his best side.
I think this CD is so enjoyable to me because both the pianist and the orchestra play with great skill. It would be utterly ruined by a conductor who doesn't believe in the music or by a pianist who hasn't approached the music with the same respect that he/she would approach, say, a Tchaikovsky concerto. Stephen Coombs is on his way to becoming one of my favourite pianists. Whilst he may have been aware of the Pierne Concerto for a while before learning this repertoire I can't believe that he'd come across the Fantaisie Ballet or the Poeme symphonique before. However, he makes great advocacy for these pieces and plays them as if he's known them for all of his life. I get the sense that he has really thought about phrasing in all of the pieces very carefully. He cherishes the softer moments as much as he does the dazzling scherzandos. As big as the music gets he still waits until the end to really rev up the engine! The orchestra doesn't put a foot wrong either, I've rarely heard playing with such bite.
I'm a fan of the Hyperion Romantic Piano Concerto Series, particularly the volumes dedicated to just one composer.
Like other reviewers my favourite piece is the Poeme symphonique. It's very exciting, the names who come to mind as the piece progresses are Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saens and Copland. The Concerto is also great fun, making full use of pianistic effects, dazzling virtuosity and the orchestral accompaniment is brilliant. Surely the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra must be one of the great ensembles active in the world today and they (along with Stephen Coombs) have made me wish that more pianists would take music by highly skilled composers such as Pierne a little more seriously. I doubt that I'll ever hear this piece live in concert, but could it be bettered? Even by hearing it live? I really don't know. All in all this is a very fine CD and I'm finding it hard to stop listening to it. My favourite disk in the series is still the Massenet/Hahn Concertos. This one, altogether different, is almost as good and I highly recommend it, particularly to people who are remotely interested in French repertoire.
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on 12 August 2009
Pierne's Piano Concerto is a pleasant but not particularly well constructed and rather insubstantial work. It is clearly influenced by Saint-Saens but there is no trace of his flare and little of his melodic memorability. The first movement does have a strong second subject but there is no real development. The recapitulation is severely truncated. The scherzo is so heavily influenced by the one in Saint-Saens's Second Piano Concerto as to be practically the same piece! The finale (there is no slow movement) has an introduction which quotes the two main themes of the first movement. This leads to a vigorous main theme and some quite attractive subsidiary material. Again there is little real development.
The "Fantaisie-Ballet" is a sequence of four short tuneful movements again in the manner of Saint-Saens. The "Scherzo-Caprice" has some attractive waltz-like music reminiscent of Saint-Saens's "Wedding Cake".
The later "Poeme Symphonique" is completely different in mood. It is very Franckian in its harmony and is much the most substantial music on this disc. This is a piece which repays repeated hearings.
As you would expect from this source, these are fine performances and recordings. Not an urgent recommendation but worth exploring.
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