The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 13 = WM. STERNDALE BENNETT: Piano Concerto No. 4 in f minor; Caprice in E major; FRANCIS EDWARD BACHE: Piano Concerto in E major – Howard Shelley, piano & conductor/ BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

by | Nov 21, 2007 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 13 = WM. STERNDALE BENNETT:  Piano Concerto No. 4 in f minor; Caprice in E major; FRANCIS EDWARD BACHE: Piano Concerto in E major – Howard Shelley, piano & conductor/ BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – Hyperion DCA67595, 65:19 **** [Distr. by Harmonia Mundi]:

Those of us who like to venture off the beaten track in our music-collecting experiences are grateful to Hyperion for their several different series of concerto collections.  This one is already up to number 13 and has brought to light a variety of lovely piano concertos that clearly deserve hearing. This one brings us two little-known British composers of the 19th century, a period when English composers received little attention vs. those of Europe at large.

Bache was the younger of the two composers, and studied with Bennett, who had greater success as both composer and pedagogue.  Both had first received attention in the musical life of Leipzig rather than in England. Bennett’s Fourth Piano Concerto was premiered in 1839 in Leipzig and was rave-reviewed by none other than Robert Schumann, who said the work contained an abundance of fine melodies. Schumann also found the last movement “quite humorous.”  Though not a Lisztian/Rachmaninoff showoff vehicle, the concerto does allow the piano soloist to display his advanced technical skills.  The composer’s short Caprice is an inventive “lovely flower bouquet” – again according to Schumann.

The Bache concerto of 1856 seems to have had Mendelssohn as a model, and shares the key structure of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto. The middle movement is in C Major, the same as Mendelssohn’s Two-Piano Concerto. Continuing to allow historical figures to write part of this review for me, the music editor of The Times wrote of this concerto in 1902: “…his ideas are always fresh…his treatment, even though it may strike some modern listeners as a little timid, is uniformly musical.” Bully, good sir.

 – John Sunier

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