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Godard: Klavierkonzerte Nr.1 & 2/Introduction et Allegro Op.49 - Das Romantische Klavierkonzert Vol.63
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Zu früh verstorben
Links des Rheins wartet nach wie vor jede Menge guter Musik, um endlich auch hierzulande entdeckt zu werden: zum Beispiel die beiden Klavierkonzerte des heute fast vollständig vergessenen, weil einfach zu früh verstorbenen, französischen Komponisten Benjamin Godard (1849-1895). Sie vereinigen auf ausgesprochen ansprechende Weise die melodischen Qualitäten eines Jules Massenet mit dem Einfallsreichtum und der technischen Brillanz eines Camille Saint-Saëns für neugierige Musikfreunde erneut eine unbedingt hörenswerte Entdeckung in der mittlerweile schon legendären Serie zum romantischen Klavierkonzert bei HYPERION!
In sharp contradistinction to the rest of the composers in this series, all of whom look like walruses, Benjamin Godard looks quite a lot like Johnny Depp in his daguerreotype. We should be marketing this directly to teenage girls.
Howard Shelley directs the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra from the piano in this latest volume of The Romantic Piano Concerto series. As ever, they perform unknown music with consummate style and deep understanding, making the best possible case for the works. We have reached Volume 63 and the works of French composer Benjamin Godard, a figure who is almost totally forgotten today. He is described by Jeremy Nicholas in his booklet note as 'a composer who combines the sentimental melodic appeal of Massenet with the fecundity and technical facility of Saint-Saëns'.
Among Godard's oeuvre, well over seventy opus numbers are devoted to works for solo piano, ranging from Les contes de Perrault, Op 6, to Valse No 15, Op 153. His Hommage à Chopin can be found on Hyperion CDA67803, performed by Jonathan Plowright. Much of the enormous amount of music he produced followed in the tradition of Mendelssohn and Schumann (his admiration for the latter inspired a string quartet arrangement of Kinderszenen in 1876). With the emergence of more innovative composers, Godard's conservative idiom meant his reputation faded before his early death in Cannes on 10 January 1895. However, in the three works presented here his writing for the piano exceeds the technical range of his two idols, and is often reminiscent of the bravura demands found in the concertos of Liszt and Rubinstein.
Barely remembered now, for the Berceuse from his opera Jocelyn, Godard process ideal rediscovery material in Hyperion's invaluable Romantic Piano Concerto series: a bravura romp in the hands of Shelley. **** --BBC Music Magazine, Sept'14
The performances by the indefatigable Howard Shelley and the Tasmanian orchestra cannot be faulted. --Gramophone, Sept'14
Throughout all three works, Shelley dazzles with his effortless virtuosity and lightness of touch and the recording is first-rate. --IRR, Sept'14
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The Second Piano Concerto (1893) came 18 years later. Like its predecessor, the concerto begins with a somber melody that changes over to a heroic theme and is followed by an Andante with a romantic and touching melody. The Scherzo is reminiscent of Mendelssohn and Litolff’s well known Scherzo from his Concerto symphonique No 4 in its wit and charm. The Finale revisits the opening theme of the concerto going into a cadenza, when the finale proper begins with the soloist playing molto perpetuo. The concerto ends glorious flourish.
The Introduction and Allegro is as engaging as the concerti. At first, one would think that this is a highly profound work, judging from the heavy tone of the opening Introduction. The Allegro is the opposite and is a jaunty melody, like a rustic dance and a sparkling second subject. Howard Shelly and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra clearly enjoyed the music and their performance is absolutely fabulous. I would be wonderful if we could have more Godard on disc. He wrote copious amount of music during his short life, including five symphonies. Hopefully a conductor looking for a composer to champion will provide us with more music.
Godard is another Romantic composer who is basically remembered for only one composition: Berceuse ("Angels Guard Thee") from his opera, Jocelyn (1888). However, this composer certainly offers a wealth of compositions in his rather short life time (1849-1895) including five symphonies; one ballet; two violin concerti; four violin sonatas; two piano trios, eight operas; one cello sonata and over 100 art songs (chansons). The style is romantic with beautiful melodies.
The above two piano concerti and Introduction and Allegro are typical examples of the flowing melodies of this composer. As always, Shelley and the orchestra carry the day with a sense for the dramatic as well as sensitivity combined with panache and bravura which have the typical characteristics of Godard's pen. Beautiful phrasing, a wonderful orchestra sound which is balanced and totally secure add to the extremely high counts for this unique program. The program notes are always excellent with Hyperion which add so much to the enjoyment of these romantic piano concerti. Highly recommended for those musicians, music lovers and collectors of rare and unique piano concerti.
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