Notes and Editorial Reviews
Benjamin Frith's survey of John Field's piano concertos now reaches Nos. 5 and 6. The former, "L'incendie par l'Orage" ("Fire by Lightning"--a title probably suggested by the incendiary political events of 1812), offers tremendous scope for bravura pianism, and Frith's account meets its challenges admirably. The drama and ferocity of his playing of the C minor storm (from the first-movement development) that gives the piece its title is remarkable for its deft finger-work and eruptive force. By contrast, the liquid phrasing and effortlessness of Frith's playing in the florid passage that precedes the storm is meltingly beautiful as well, and the spirited rondo finale bounds along in carefree style, just as it should.
Concerto No. 6 in C is less taxing and more lightly orchestrated, but Frith's account is no less superb, providing captivating moments of contrast, chiefly in the finale, which Frith plays with lightness and brilliance. The recording may strike some listeners as being too up-front, though, and the venue is certainly very reverberant, so the piano (right hand) and violins above the staff can sound shrill and edgy. Miceal O'Rourke's Chandos recordings with Matthias Bamert and the London Mozart Players offer optimal sonics, with believable balance between piano and orchestra, but the performances don't match the élan and spontaneity of Frith's. His bargain Naxos survey also puts the concertos in correct numerical order, whereas O'Rourke's No. 5 is unhelpfully paired with Field's third concerto.
--Michael Jameson, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Piano no 6 in C major, H 49 by John Field
Benjamin Frith (Piano)
Written: 1819/1820; England
Date of Recording: 01/1997
Venue: St. Nicholas Hospital, Newcastle, UK
Length: 30 Minutes 48 Secs.
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