Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 - 3 - Romantic Piano Concerto, vol. 50
Described as a jewel in the label s crown and one of the glories of the recording industry, Hyperion s Romantic Piano Concerto series has reached an amazing milestone: Volume 50. Rarely in the history of recorded music has... more »
Described as a jewel in the label s crown and one of the glories of the recording industry, Hyperion s Romantic Piano Concerto series has reached an amazing milestone: Volume 50. Rarely in the history of recorded music has such a rich seam of undiscovered delights been mined to such consistently dazzling effect. These first fifty volumes include 131 works for piano and orchestra. Fifty- nine of these are premiere recordings and many others have only been recorded once before. The performers include some of the greatest pianists, orchestras and conductors in the world, and each disc in itself is a miracle of virtuosity, scholarship and musicianship. For volume 50, a typically stellar cast has been assembled for a two-disc set that includes, unusually, one of the most famous concertos in the repertoire. Tchaikovsky s Piano Concerto No.1 has certainly achieved warhorse status but in the expert hands of Stephen Hough, it sounds new once again. Recorded live with the Minnesota Orchestra under their acclaimed conductor Osmo Vänskä, this fascinating two-disc, complete survey of Tchaikovsky s music for piano and orchestra also delves into less well- known music by the famous composer. The result is a release of unique importance: a winning combination of a pianist at the zenith of his artistry, a world-class orchestra and director, a pre-eminent producer and engineer, repertoire both familiar and unknown and packaged with even more than the usual care that customers have come to expect from Hyperion.
A Fitting 50th Release
Jerry Rutledge | Minnesota | 05/02/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree comletely with Con Brio - but first a disclaimer - I've been a season subscriber to Minnesota Orchestra concerts for over 50 years and a guarantor for nearly as long. So I'm prejudiced. Yes, these were recorded "live". Three takes of each work. You could hear a pin drop. I know, I was there for part of it. And if there was any coughing, Hyperion did a superb job of seamlessly editing. If you don't care for the accoustics of Orchestra Hall (which, incidentally, is considered one of the most perfect accountic venues in the world), then you probably won't like the recording. Yes, it sounds like a live performance in Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis. Period. My suspicion is that the only way Hyperion could afford the Minnesota was to record them live in concert. So probably if you want orchestras of this calibur on the Romantic Piano Concerto series, you likely will have to take them "live". Which ain't all bad......
As to the performances. The Minnesota under Osmo Vanska is now considered to be a world class ensemble. Their most recent European tour drew rave reviews and recently they closed out a sort of world orchestra series at Carnagie Hall. The reviewer for The New Yorker, for example, called them the best of the lot. We are so fortunate to have them in Minnesota.
As for Stephen Hough, what can you say about Britain's leading pianist? One of the world's leaders? His performances are stunning, to say the least, and if you figure you don't need another recording of the "workhorse" Tchaikovsky First, you will likely be in for a pleasant surprise at how fresh this interpretation is. You get alot of romantic piano in this set, and as a bonus (besides two encore pieces) there are two additional versions of the Andante Non Troppo of Concerto #2! By changing the order of playing of the tracks on Disc 2, you can actually insert either of them into a full performance of the concerto.
Would I have preferred something far more obscure from this combination? Perhaps a piano concerto by George Griffin, or Carolyn Reinagle or Charles Horseley to name several English composers that come to mind? Sure, but Hyperion would probably go broke under my "leadership" - and that's something we don't want to see. Ah yes, and then I see release #51 is already in the mill - concertos by Wilhelm Taubert and Jacob Rosenhaim. I can hardly wait......
Highly recommended. Keep up the great work, Hyperion."
D. A Wend | Buffalo Grove, IL USA | 05/20/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Despite having several recordings of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 1, there was no way I was going to take a pass of Stephen Hough's performances. Stephen Hough's performance is among the best. His attention to the intricate details and subtle colors of the piano part is superb. He brings the right touches of poetry and drama to the virtuosic passagework. His is a performance that demands to be heard. The Minnesota Orchestra complements Mr. Hough at every turn, performing the colorful orchestration with care for the right emphasis. This is especially true in the closing chords of the first movement, which are usually given a hard emphasis. Here they are played with more restraint with no lack of excitement.
Piano Concerto No 2 was written in 1880 and has taken a back seat to the first concerto. In many ways, the second is the equal of the first piano concerto. Tchaikovsky was nervous about the concerto. He submitted the concerto to Nicolai Rubinstein and Sergei Taneyev for corrections. However, the first performance in 1882 was not successful and thought by many to be too long. Eventually, the music was submitted to Alexander Siloti who mercilessly edited the score. Tchaikovsky was not pleased with many of Siloti's changes but died before he could alter the score. The second concerto was published in Siloti's edition. The second movement is especially noteworthy for its triple concerto approach where the pianist is joined by a violin and cello. Unfortunately, the pianist does not have an opportunity to show off his skills. But, to make up for this, Tchaikovsky loaded the final movement with virtuosic display.
This set also includes the Siloti version of the middle movement and a new version edited by Stephen Hough. In the latter edition, the piano part is extended, playing with the cello and violin where the piano played nothing in the original version.
The Concert Fantasia was composed in 1884, and was popular during Tchaikovsky's life but disappeared into oblivion following his death. The Fantasia is in two movements and is very experimental in the handling of the music. The lyrical opening movement begins with a charming Russian dance followed by an extended cadenza that introduces a second melody. The orchestra returns after some time restating the opening dance melody. The second movement is marked "Contrastes" and begins like a chamber work with piano and cello before the orchestra joins in. The music switches to a fast dance and alternates between the opening melody and the dance and concludes with a bravura finish.
Piano Concerto No 3 (1893) came into being after Tchaikovsky rejected an attempt to write his sixth symphony. The first movement of the symphony had been fully scored and was transformed into a one-movement piano concerto. The completed concerto lacked, in the judgment of Taneyev, enough virtuosic writing for the soloist, so Tchaikovsky sketched two additional movements that were never completed. Taneyev edited the movements into a traditional concerto but the single movement has served to be sufficient.
The performances recorded here are superb on all counts. I have not heard a more vigorous account of the Second and Third Piano Concertos. The recording is well balanced and clear. I do not detect any of the poor recording quality that has been commented on here, and I have played the discs on a small portable player and on a car player. The only problem I did hear was that the solo cello and violin in the Second concerto sounded more distant than the piano.
As a bonus, Stephen Hough recorded two of his transcriptions taken from songs of Tchaikovsky (Solitude and None but the Lonely Heart) that Mr. Hough plays as encores. The performances were recorded live (except for the additional Andante movements and the encores) with applause coming at the end of each piece.
As far as the "sound" goes..............
Paul | Houston | 05/25/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On my top of line Martin-Logan electrostatics and Legacy sub-woofer system, these recordings are a sonic knockout. Wide soundstage and deep with knife edge details. Its a winner on all accounts.
I'm stunned that Minnesota has such a dynamite orchestra and hope they record until they ache. I want more."