The G major Anton Rubinstein violin concerto is a fine and powerful work, quite as good as many a lesser-known Russian example in the same genre, and easily as deserving of wider currency as, say, the Taneyev Suite de Concert, which is just as rarely heard these days. Nishizaki gives a committed and polished reading, though you often feel that this is music written by a pianist who had marginally less facility when writing for the violin. Still, here’s a well-schooled performance, full of agreeable touches of imagination (the Andante shows Nishizaki’s fine-spun tone to particularly good effect) delivered with crisply economical urgency that makes good musical sense even of the work’s plainer and less idiomatic passages.
With the exception of a Serenade for orchestra, the Cello Concerto was Moeran’s last major work. The premiere performance took place in Dublin in November 1945, where it received great acclaim. It is in conventional sonata form and is one continuous paean for the cello, which is allowed to sing through the expert orchestration from start to finish.
This album with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and its artistic director, Neeme Jarvi, features two mature works by Martinu, recorded in the splendid acoustic of the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn. One of the most wide-ranging composers of music for the stage, Martinu was also enthusiastic about the theatrical possibilities of including new media in his operas.
Born into a musical Latvian family violinist Baiba Skride won First Prize at the 2010 Queen Elisabeth Competition, held annually in Belgium. Ms. Skride’s natural approach to her music making has endeared her to some of today’s most important conductors and orchestras. Following her debut at the BBC Proms with the Oslo Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko playing the Szymanowski Concerto No. 1, The Times noted, ‘Latvian violinist Baiba Skride sailed over the orchestra with long lines of melody, silver and sweet.’ She was immediately re-invited, and at the 2014 Proms played the Stravinsky Concerto with the BBC Symphony and Ed Gardner. Baiba Skride debut recording with Orfeo of the Szymanowski Concertos and Myths was nominated for the 2015 BBC Music Magazine Awards in the Concerto section. For her Orfeo CD follow up she has recorded two Scandinavian violin concertos truly exciting, fresh and innovative – Jean Sibelius’s well-loved concerto and Carl Nielsen’s unjustly neglected companion work – with the Tampere Philharmonic and conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali.
The Piano Concerto in C major, Op. 39 (BV 247), by Ferruccio Busoni, is one of the largest works ever written in this genre. The concerto lasts around 70 minutes and is in five movements; in the final movement a male chorus sings words from the final scene of the verse drama Aladdin by Adam Oehlenschläger, who also wrote the words of one of the Danish national anthems.
What the world needs more of is intelligently planned, stupendously played, and brilliantly recorded collections like this one. These two discs contain all the piano works of Michael Tippett, works that come from every period of the composer's very long life except his very last. It includes the youthful, tuneful Piano Sonata No. 1 written between 1936 and 1938 and revised in 1941, the massive Fantasia on a Theme of Handel from 1941, the exuberant Piano Concerto from 1955, the experimental Piano Sonata No. 2, the gnomic almost Beethovenian Piano Sonata No. 3 from 1973, and the gnarly post-Beethovenian Piano Sonata No. 4. It features a bravura performance by pianist Steven Osborne that makes the best case for all the music, no matter how outré or recherché its harmonic proclivities or rhythmic audacities. Osborne has the emotional enthusiasm, intellectual clarity, physical strength, and sheer willpower to make listeners believe that Tippett is a major English composer and make them wonder why they ever doubted it. With the superlative accompaniment of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Martyn Brabbins in the Concerto and the Fantasia and the sparkling recording by Andrew Keener for Hyperion, this disc marks a major step forward in the Tippett discography.