Piano Concerti 1 & 2 Capriccio Brilliant Rondo Bri CD, Import
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Felix Mendelssohn : Capriccio Brillant, Op.22 - Concerto pour piano n°1, Op.25 - Rondo Brillant, Op.29 - Concerto pour piano, Op.40 - Sérénade et Allegro giocoso, Op.43 / Stephen Hough, piano - City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, dir. Lawrence Foster
Mendelssohn was called a "spoiled genius" by the famous musical scholar Tovey. Aside from a few out and out masterpieces, it's hard to find a single late work of his that doesn't overreach itself in one way or another. But that doesn't mean that there aren't many more fine works than he's usually given credit for, and the piano concertos certainly fall into this category. Modest in ambition and full of that feather-light filigree that Mendelssohn did better than anyone, when played with the verve and commitment that Stephen Hough brings to them, they sound like great music, plain and simple. The two Brillante works that come with the concertos live up to their titles. A fine disc. --David Hurwitz
Stephen Hough is possessed of a digital dexterity that perfectly suits the endless cascades of notes to be heard, and enjoyed, in all the outer movements of these two concertos. He also plays the central movements with sympathetic simplicity. His slightly cool approach suits the style of the music very well as there is more than a little of the Classical period about their composition. Mendelssohn was very much on the cusp of the transition from the Classical to Romantic periods and, as such, this disc only just qualifies as an entry into the 'Romantic Period Concertos' category.
The disc is generously filled at 75 minutes and the additional pieces are compositions of note including the popular Capriccio Brillant and the Rondo Brillant. The concluding Serenade and Allegro giocoso is less well known but shares the same stream of melody and pyrotechnics. All these pieces are played with appropriate brilliance and flair by Hough who is well supported by Foster and the orchestra. The recording is well up to good Hyperion standards.
I would therefore suggest that this fine disc is likely to give many people a great deal of pleasure and that it warrants a place on any short-list of discs of this repertoire that purchasers might wish to consider seriously either as an 'only' buy or as part of a collection of comparative performances.