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The Romantic Piano Concerto Vol 43 / Shelley, et al

Album Summary

>Bennett, William Sterndale : Concerto for piano & orchestra no 4 in F minor, Op 19
>Bache, Francis Edward : Concerto for Piano in E major, Op. 18
>Bennett, William Sterndale : Caprice for piano & orchestra in E, Op 22
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

The Romantic Piano Concerto series returns to England to uncover further gems of the genre. Most likely, the concerto by Francis Edward Bache (1833-1858) has never been performed. A pupil of Sterndale Bennett, the young composer received early acclaim from contemporaries all over Europe as a prodigious talent of whom great things were expected. Sadly, he died of consumption at the age of 25, leaving the manuscript of his 'Piano Concerto in E minor' in the library of the Royal Academy of Music, where it has languished until this recording.

'Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series is back on top form with this delightful coupling of works by two English composers ... The concerto by Francis Bache receives a much-deserved world premiere recording. If you like the concertos of Mendelssohn then you are sure to fall for these. Few pianists can match Shelley in this repertoire - sparkling, crisp articulation, graceful phrasing, and heartfelt lyricism. And all this while conducting from the keyboard. How does he do it?' (Classic FM Magazine *****)

'The Concerto (arguably the best of Bennett's extant concertos) has substantial strengths ... It is wonderfully interpreted in this reading, which - with Howard Shelley conducting from the keyboard - has a superb 'one-ness' of conception and realisation ... Bache's Concerto ... is a quite original and surprisingly successful composition. Structurally, the three movements are continuous and run into each other with a mastery which is wholly remarkable, as are the changes of mood within each movement ... Shelley is equally fine in this performance, delivering an account which is musically and technically first-rate in every regard, and demonstrating facets of his artistry which are not so widely appreciated as they certainly deserve to be ... Shelley and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra give quite enthralling and deeply impressive performances throughout this disc, and the recording is magnificent. Elizabeth French contributes excellent booklet notes' (International Record Review)

'Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series, a wealth of novelties and delights, has reached its 43rd issue ... Neither composer could wish for a more persuasive advocate than Howard Shelley, who, in his customary role as soloist and conductor, gives us an air-spun brilliance and stylistic elegance very much his own. Most refined of virtuosos, he has been admirably presented and recorded' (Gramophone)

'Bennett's sparkling Fourth Piano Concerto, with its lightly worn debts to Mendelssohn and Schumann ... the flights of lyrical fancy that make Bennett's piano-writing so engaging. As soloist and conductor, Howard Shelley makes the best possible case for both works' (The Guardian)

'Bache's individual style and skill in orchestration are unmistakable ... It is a masterly work, consisting of three movements linked by piano cadenzas that crewate the impression of a single movement. Strong vivace passages alternate with lyrical elements, the overall work showing a freshness, undoubted musicality and skill in orchestration. The distinguished pianist/conductor Howard Shelley with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra gives an impeccable performance that will surely stimulate interest in a composer whose early death was a great loss to the English tradition and whose work deserves to be explored' (Federation of Recorded Music News)

'Howard Shelley's recording is superb and in full and lustrous. Sterndale Bennett's writing is sparkly and agile and Shelley is infinitely dextrous in response. It's interesting that Mendelssohn conducted the work, for there is much that is Mendelssohnian in it. The virtuosity is of the fluent, sophisticated variety. Yet there is also, rather daringly, a single-line melody (most affecting, too) for piano, simply accompanied by pizzicato strings. The slow movement is a 'Barcarole' and has an easy-flow basic rhythm that enables the melodic lines to flourish. A more dramatic middle section finds Shelley impassioned in his delivery of it. This is not the original middle movement; Sterndale Bennett had written (as he called it) a "Stroll through the meadows", but this had failed to gain any popularity. The fiery middle section gives the concerto some emotional depth. The by turns sturdy and capricious finale forms an apt conclusion' (ClassicalSource.com)

'Those of you who have a particular interest in British music will certainly wish to explore the repertoire on this CD. Francis Edward Bache (1833-1858) was a pupil of Sterndale Bennett but died tragically young of TB. The manuscript of his concerto has been in the library of the Royal Academy of Music and might never have been performed until now. Howard Shelley has a way of bringing this music to life; in other hands, it could sound banal. The second movement of Sterndale Bennett's concerto was one of the composer's favourite pieces and, it became very popular and appeared in many arrangements. While there have been other recordings of WSB's concerto, this is certainly one of the finest' (Braille News)

' Shelley plays ... with felicity and an almost palpable devotion to the repertoire and Hyperion's engineers present the music with just the right combination of clarity and ambience' (Fanfare, USA)



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Works Details

>Bennett, William Sterndale : Concerto for piano & orchestra no 4 in F minor, Op 19
  • Performer: Howard Shelley (Piano)
  • Conductor: Howard Shelley
  • Ensemble: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 26 min. 58 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Concerto

>Bache, Francis Edward : Concerto for Piano in E major, Op. 18
  • Performer: Howard Shelley (Piano)
  • Conductor: Howard Shelley
  • Ensemble: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 24 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1856

>Bennett, William Sterndale : Caprice for piano & orchestra in E, Op 22
  • Performer: Howard Shelley (Piano)
  • Conductor: Howard Shelley
  • Ensemble: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 12 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Concerto