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The Romantic Piano Concerto Vol 64 - Oswald, Napoleao / Pizarro

Release Date: 10/14/2014 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67984   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Henrique OswaldAlfredo Napoleao
Performer:  Artur Pizarro
Conductor:  Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

These two works have all of the advantages and disadvantages of Romantic virtuoso piano concertos, only in different proportions. On the plus side, you have brilliant and grateful solo writing and some delicious material. On the minus side, there is the tendency to sprawl, the utterly inept handling of first movement form, and the general lack of rhythmic backbone and sense of ongoing motion. Composed in the 1880s or so, both are very much of their time and place, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Both Oswald and Napoleão were born in the same year, 1852, the former dying in 1931, the latter in 1917. Oswald (no relation to Lee Harvey) was Brazilian, Napoleão Portuguese, although both spent the lion’s
Read more share of their careers in Brazil. On evidence here, Oswald was the better composer. Yes, his concerto features a relatively non-developing first movement, but the central slow movement is gorgeous, and the finale pithy and not a note too long.

Napoleão based his concerto, pretty obviously, on Saint-Saëns’ Second, only more so. It starts with a twenty minute long Andantino maestoso (not a promising designation), continues with a charming scherzo and concludes with a finale hopefully designated “allegro” without any special understanding of what that means, formally speaking. The problem with this piece is that after the scherzo, which plays for four minutes, you still have thirty-two to go. Oswald’s slow movement, by contrast, comprises a third of the work, all to the good.

Certainly both pieces receive persuasive advocacy from Artur Pizarro and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Martyn Brabbins. The soloist plays almost continuously throughout both concertos, mostly accompanied discretely by strings, with the occasional woodwind solo popping up for contrast. The full orchestra chimes in at nodal points and climaxes, but essentially this is the soloist’s show, with acres of filigree and arpeggiation employed with the same ubiquity as a tremolo in a Bruckner symphony.

Still, Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series is one of the glories of the modern discography, and whatever the quality of the music this latest release (volume 64!) is beautifully made by all concerned–a no-brainer acquisition for collectors. And you will listen to the Oswald, at least, more than once, particularly for the Adagio.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 10 by Henrique Oswald
Performer:  Artur Pizarro (Piano)
Conductor:  Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: Modern 
Venue:  BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff 
Length: 30 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Piano Concerto No. 2 in E flat minor, Op. 31 by Alfredo Napoleao
Performer:  Artur Pizarro (Piano)
Conductor:  Martyn Brabbins
Period: Romantic 
Venue:  BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff 
Length: 36 Minutes 17 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Excellent November 15, 2014 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "The spirit of Brazil and Portugal, encompassed in the Romanticism of the late 19th century, is wonderfully displayed by two engaging piano concertos by Henrique Oswald and Alfred Napoleao. With Artur Pizarro at the piano, Martin Brabbins leads the BBC National Symphony Orchestra of Wales in a warm, heartfelt performance that fully measures up to the standards of Hyperion's superb Romantic Piano Concerto series. The works are conventionally structured and of moderate intensity, with plenty of melody, lyricism, and a sense of calm optimism that adds proportion and balance. This is a fine recording- pianist, conductor, and orchestra all do a great job with these highly attractive scores. Needless to say, Hyperion's sonics are superb, so I have no reservations whatsoever in giving this new disk a strong recommendation." Report Abuse
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