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Schumann, Grieg, Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos / Shelley, Greed, et al

> Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 - I. Allegro affettuoso
> Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 - II. Intermezzo: Andantino grazioso -
> Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 - III. Allegro vivace
> Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 - I. Allegro molto moderato
> Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 - II. Adagio -
> Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 - III. Allegro moderato molto e marcato
> Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 - I. Andante sostenuto
> Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 - II. Allegro scherzando
> Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 - III. Presto

Album Summary

>Schumann, Robert : Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 54
>Grieg, Edvard : Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 16
>Saint-Saëns, Camille : Concerto for Piano no 2 in G minor, Op. 22
Performer Conductor Ensemble
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Composers

Notes & Reviews:

In this his latest recording for Chandos Shelley turns his attention to three popular concertos in the piano repertoire: Robert Schumann's only completed piano concerto, Grieg's single piano concerto and Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor. These authoritative performances shed new light on three well-loved works, brought together on one disc for the first time.

"Ever since I first fell in love with the Schumann Piano Concerto in my early teens, I have been intrigued and slightly puzzled by the tradition of slowing the fourth bar of the Allegro affettuoso first movement to what is effectively no more than an Andante, even though there is no indication of any tempo shift in the score. A metronome marking of 84 to the minim, taken from Schumann's manuscript, is given in almost all editions of this work, reducing only to 72 to the dotted minim for the central Andante expressivo section. These are extraordinarily fast basic tempos. There are similar issues in the second movement of the Schumann - a surprisingly fast metronome mark, suggesting perhaps a lighter lyricism than we are sometimes used to, especially in the big cello melody - and also in the first movement of the Saint-Saens Second Concerto, which is often taken at about half the marked speed. As for the Grieg Concerto, we are fortunate to have Percy Grainger's very informative and detailed notes on this piece as he discussed it with the composer. Elsewhere he points out that Grieg's tempos were generally faster than when others played the piece. These are some of the considerations which have led to the interpretations on this recording. Directing a highly responsive orchestra from the keyboard has also allowed me great freedom in realizing my ideas." -Howard Shelley

Gramophone Magazine
These are intimate performances, an effect no doubt enhanced by the fact that Shelley directs from the piano. Intimately but also sharply characterised. And when virtuosity is required, Shelley provides it in spades. Technically, the Saint-Saëns is an ideal vehicle for Shelley's fingery kind of pianism and he is exceptional in the Allegro scherzando, the movement that our-Mendelssohns Mendelssohn.

BBC Music Magazine
... a modern version of Schumann's Piano Concerto that actually sounds like Schumann. Howard Shelley's performance is refreshingly free from empty showmanship or narcissistic 'pianism'. The Grieg and Saint-Saëns concertos are also full of lovely things, especially the slow movement coda for the Grieg - this music can touch without being the slightest bit sentimental or oversweet.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
What a good idea to add to that favourite among LP couplings Saint-Saëns's most Bachian concerto, No 2. And the pleasure doesn't stop there.

Howard Shelley is one of those musicians who quietly goes about his pianistic (and now conductorly) business without grabbing the limelight except for the odd award, but who is consistently impressive, unfailingly musical and only goes into the studio when he has something to say about a work. That is certainly the case here.

It's a particular delight to hear a reading odf the Schumann as fleet and joyous as this one.

These are intimate performances, an effect no doubt enhanced by the fact that Shelley directs from the piano. Intimate but also sharply characterised.

And when virtuosity is required, Shelley provides it in spades. Take the finale of the Schumann: textures are wonderfully transparent, the dotted rhythms are perky and precise, and there are plenty of striking colours from the orchestra (which throughout the disc proves itself a fine ensemble, with some particularly outstanding wind-players).

Shelley is just as persuasive in the Grieg, coaxing from the orchestra a real sense of narrative, some lovely oboe-playing and allowing the big tunes due space but never over-indulging them.

The concerto's irresistible yearning quality is well caught too, particularly in the central movement, where he is almost a match for Lipatti. Again, tempi are generally fleet, and Shelley pays attention both to the marcato marking of the finale and its folk tinges without overstatement. These are certainly performances to put alongside the classics.

Technically, the Saint-Saëns is an ideal vehicle for Shelley's fingery kind of pianism and he is exceptional in the Allegro scherzando, the movement that out-Mendelssohns Mendelssohn.

Again, the orchestra is utterly focused. The recorded quality here, as elsewhere, is exemplary.



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Works Details

>Schumann, Robert : Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 54
  • Performer: Howard Shelley (Piano)
  • Conductor: Howard Shelley
  • Notes: Victoria Hall, Leeds Town Hall (07/04/2008-07/05/2008)
  • Running Time: 27 min. 21 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1841

>Grieg, Edvard : Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 16
  • Performer: Howard Shelley (Piano)
  • Conductor: Howard Shelley
  • Notes: Victoria Hall, Leeds Town Hall (07/04/2008-07/05/2008)
  • Running Time: 28 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1868

>Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) : Concerto for Piano no 2 in G minor, Op. 22
  • Performer: Howard Shelley (Piano)
  • Conductor: Howard Shelley
  • Notes: Victoria Hall, Leeds Town Hall (07/04/2008-07/05/2008)
  • Running Time: 21 min. 45 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1868