The Romantic Piano Concerto Volume 54? My God! And the series shows no lack of interest or quality. These works are delightful. Frederic Cowen’s single-movement Concertstück is beautifully written, full of good tunes, and thoroughly captivating. It’s a worthy successor to Weber’s famous piece with the same title, and one of a long list of concerto-like works that deserve to be heard live but likely never will earn that distinction. Arthur Somervell’s Normandy variations, based on a French folksong, date from 1912 and for a couple of decades became a repertory work. The solo part was taken by no less than Donald Francis Tovey. It may be that the theme returns one too many times toward the end, but really, who cares?
TheRead more “Highland” Concerto is a lot of fun. Whether Somervell borrowed actual Scottish folk tunes or not, you’ll swear you’ve heard some of these themes before. The concerto has three pithy movements lasting a bit less than half an hour. Even the first movement, usually the Achilles’ heel of Romantic concertos owing to their patchwork construction, goes swiftly on account of its attractive melodic material. As with all of his contributions to this series, pianist Martin Roscoe couldn’t be more persuasive an advocate of the music, while the same holds true of Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Hyperion’s engineers capture it all in vivid, well-balanced sonics. This series looks set to go on forever, and we can only hope that it does.
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