Howard Shelley directs the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra from the piano in this latest volume of The Romantic Piano Concerto series. As ever, they perform unknown music with consummate style and deep understanding, making the best possible case for the works. We have reached Volume 63 and the works of French composer Benjamin Godard, a figure who is almost totally forgotten today. He is described by Jeremy Nicholas in his booklet note as ‘a composer who combines the sentimental melodic appeal of Massenet with the fecundity and technical facility of Saint-Saëns’.
Among Godard’s oeuvre, well over seventy opus numbers are devoted to works for solo piano, ranging from Les contes de Perrault, Op 6, to Valse No 15, Op 153. HisRead more Hommage à Chopin can be found on Hyperion CDA67803, performed by Jonathan Plowright. Much of the enormous amount of music he produced followed in the tradition of Mendelssohn and Schumann (his admiration for the latter inspired a string quartet arrangement of Kinderszenen in 1876). With the emergence of more innovative composers, Godard’s conservative idiom meant his reputation faded before his early death in Cannes on 10 January 1895. However, in the three works presented here his writing for the piano exceeds the technical range of his two idols, and is often reminiscent of the bravura demands found in the concertos of Liszt and Rubinstein.
"Benjamin Godard is nowadays known solely for the Berceuse from his 1888 opera Jocelyn, regularly performed by classical and popular musicians alike. There was more to him than that, however, as this enterprising disc—Volume 63 of Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series—admirably proves. Godard distrusted Wagnerism, and his two piano concertos constrain Romantic sensibilities within the classical form in ways that often resemble Brahms, though Godard's thematic and orchestral elegance remain quintessentially French … the disc is a tour de force for Howard Shelley, who, in addition to coping with Godard's often vertiginous piano writing, directs all three performances from the keyboard, which is no mean feat." – The Guardian (UK) Read less
Another Excellant ComposerSeptember 2, 2014By John Edelblute (Hartford, WI)See All My Reviews"I purchase these albums as they come out although I have never heard of most of the composers including this one. I'm trying to expand my knowledge of music. My late wife was a music teacher and I do this in her memory although I'll never get close to her knowledge. In the series, this is by far one of the best piano concertos. I really enjoy this album and have played it repeatedly while I sit in my lake front boathouse which has a complete sound system and enjoy an adult beverage in the evening after dinner. I am well pleased with the whole series and will add to my collection as new albums come out, plus adding older releases as you put Hyperion albums on sale."Report Abuse
Bravo!!August 27, 2014By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"Volume 63 in Hyperion's acclaimed Romantic Piano series introduces a program that may well take you by storm (and also by surprise). French composer Benjamin Godard wrote a large number of works in various musical genre in his all-too-brief career (he died at age 45 in 1895), but what did he compose that brings a smile of instant recognition? Answer- hardly anything. That could well change if this great new Hyperion recording gets wide exposure. Hearkening back to the earlier days of the Romantic Era (such as Mendelssohn), Godard's two piano concertos are lyrical, mellifluous, light in texture, and deeply Romantic in the true meaning of the word. Pianist/conductor Howard Shelley leads the ever reliable Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in an eye-opening performance of Godard's concertos which cry out for recognition- they are both very good... and for an encore, there is the excellent 11 minute Introduction and Allegro. As usual, Hyperion's technical qualities are superb- balance, dynamic range, clarity, etc. Godard's musical style may have seemed a bit out of place in the midst of the heavier trends toward orchestral gigantism underway throughout Europe during much of his career, and this may possibly help explain his relative obscurity. Therefore, this new recording hopefully is a positive step by Hyperion to show the musical world how much of a fine composer Godard in fact was. As with just about everything else Hyperion has done in its Romantic Piano Concerto project, Vol. 63 will reward the listener many times over. Great recording, great performance, fresh and high quality material- try it for yourself and see what I mean. Strongly recommended."Report Abuse
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