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Herold: Piano Concertos 2, 3 & 4 / Neuburger, Niquet, Sinfonia Varsovia

Release Date: 11/08/2011 
Label:  Mirare   Catalog #: 127  
Composer:  Louis Ferdinand Herold
Performer:  Jean-Frédéric Neuburger
Conductor:  Hervé Niquet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia Varsovia
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Charm and innocence deftly played.


HÉROLD Piano Concertos: Nos. 2–4 Jean-Frédéric Neuberger (pn); Hervé Niquet, cond; Sinfonia Varsovia MIRARE 127 (61:02)

Louis-Ferdinand Hérold is not a completely forgotten composer, but what he’s mostly remembered for are his operas and operettas (particularly Read more style="font-style:italic">Zampa, a monster hit in its day) written for Paris after 1820. That’s because he took good care to hide these piano concertos away from the public, so as to “avoid accusations of eclecticism.” Neuberger has revived them here to show him as “a missing link between Mozart and Chopin.”

I find the music delightful and well written, much like the similarly little-known symphonies of Étienne-Nicholas Méhul, but like Méhul’s music they tend toward shallowness, not really plumbing emotional depths despite interesting changes of harmony and energetic, even dramatic passages. The sole exception to this, oddly enough, is the earliest piece here, the Concerto No. 2. The first movement of this does sound a bit like early Chopin. Otherwise, however, I would compare these pieces to some of Beethoven’s early piano music, which is certainly not bad, but no further developed than that.

Jean-Frédéric Neuberger is clearly a fine pianist, and the Sinfonia Varsovia is an excellent chamber orchestra. The violin solo by Maria Machowska at the beginning of the third concerto’s Andante is exceptionally well played … brava! Neuberger’s playing is stylistically apropos as well as bright and energetic, very much in the French style. And, if the claims for the music are somewhat overstated, it is certainly not (as I hope I’ve indicated) bad music, not at all. Anyone familiar with any of the music from Zampa, whether the baritone airs recorded by Battistini or the more famous overture, knows that Hérold was not at all a poor composer. But those familiar with any of the Zampa music will have an idea of these concertos; they are, indeed, cut from the same cloth, albeit from different ends of the bolt. I am glad to have heard them, and you might be delighted to hear them, too.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley


Hérold studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Adam, Kreutzer and Méhul. He wrote four piano concertos before musical theatre captured his productive attention. It was in the sphere of light opera that he was to establish himself and that, by convention, is where his strengths lay.

These three concertos inhabit, with manifest comfort and naturalness of address, the world of early Beethoven. The music possesses late classical drama but often with a winsome counter-subject. It is often Mozartean and sunny as in the first movement of No. 3 and sometimes showy in the sincere manner of Cramer and Hummel. Its blither progress chimes along with a sunny demeanour. The notes say that the music is garrulous but if that is true everything flows without friction or conflict, oiled by charm and innocence and untrammelled by fat or padding.

The producers omitted Piano Concerto No. 1 as its manuscript was so difficult to decipher. I wonder.

The trilingual notes are by Alexandre Dratwicki.

The disc is issued in Mirare's Musique Française series. I am looking forward to reviewing the Dubois volume.

On this evidence Hérold’s music is light on the aural palate and it's deftly played here. Congratulations all around including to whoever chose La Ronde by Victor Prouvé as the cover illustration for the digipack.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 2 in E flat major, Op. 26 by Louis Ferdinand Herold
Performer:  Jean-Frédéric Neuburger (Piano)
Conductor:  Hervé Niquet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia Varsovia
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811 
Concerto for Piano no 3 in A major by Louis Ferdinand Herold
Performer:  Jean-Frédéric Neuburger (Piano)
Conductor:  Hervé Niquet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia Varsovia
Period: Classical 
Written: 1813 
Concerto for Piano no 4 in E minor by Louis Ferdinand Herold
Performer:  Jean-Frédéric Neuburger (Piano)
Conductor:  Hervé Niquet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia Varsovia
Period: Classical 
Written: 1813 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 The concerto find of the year June 11, 2013 By Anthony G. (SANTA FE, NM) See All My Reviews "I originally loved Herold's vocal music and overtures, but his Piano Concerti (including the First), are well worth owning, and listening to seriously over and over again. I immerse myself in them at home and then continue that immersion on my long car journies. I find that I have begun to love them more and more as they disclose deeper musicality, emotions, and technique. Immediately accessible, don't let that stop you from repeated listening more than once as they will reveal successive peels of succulent music pleasure and greatness." Report Abuse
 Herlod & Under-rated French Music July 31, 2012 By Alec M Raymond (Brisbane, Queensland) See All My Reviews "Herold is best known to lovers of French music or early Romantic music in general as the composer of the overture to his opera, "Zampa". This is such a melodic and exciting piece that one longs to hear this and other operas in full and other overtures and ballet music which a French composer would produce as his bread and butter in the 19th century. Thus it was a great surprise and treat to discover these three piano concerti-what happened to number 1? They are not profound but are most enjoyable and certainly bear returning to from time to time. I am something of a francophile and I honestly think French composers and the elegance and beauty of much French music of the C19 and C20 is greatly under-rated e.g. Gounod's symphonies & masses, Jean Cras' piano concerto, Jean Francaix' wind music. Explore these composers and others please! And lots more Herold and Halevy etc.!!!" Report Abuse
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