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The Romantic Piano Concerto 55 - Widor
Charles-Marie Widor was born in Lyon to a family of organ builders and consequently became an organist of great skill and an assistant to Camille Saint-Saëns at La Madeleine in Paris at the age of twenty-four.
Today, Widor’s compositions for organ have a prominent position in the instrument’s core repertoire, but it is often forgotten that the composer wrote many other significant works, notably his two piano concertos. Surprisingly, these are the first recordings of the concertos and are a much-awaited addition to the numerous world premiere recordings featured in Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series, now reaching its 55th volume and still unearthing little-known works to consistently dazzling effect.
Following the success of his renditions of the Draeseke and Jadassohn concertos, pianist Markus Becker makes a welcome return to the series. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the remarkable Thierry Fischer more than do justice to Widor’s imaginative orchestrations.
“In between [the Concertos] comes the Fantasie for piano and orchestra (1889), a thematically taut score that finds Roscoe and Yates in imaginative dialogue. Highly recommended, this should secure Widor's reputation amongst non-organists at last.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2012 ****
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Widor: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2
Recorded at St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, 17-19 May 2011
After the success of Dutton Epoch’s recording of Benjamin Godard’s piano concertos, Dutton Epoch’s International Series now revives the delightful piano concertos of Charles-Marie Widor, stylishly played by Martin Roscoe. Written during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Widor’s piano concertos were performed by several of the finest French pianists of the day, yet for some unaccountable reason have dropped from the repertoire. This is not heavy romantic material but delightfully and colourfully scored music. The First Concerto from 1876 is lyrical, exhibiting an almost Chopinesque pianism. Equally as enchanting is the Fantaisie pour piano et orchestre, which pianist Martin Roscoe treats with his customary singing touch. But this is a varied programme, and in the Second Piano Concerto of 1905 we find Widor essaying music that more closely integrates soloist and orchestra. All in all this is a memorable and many-sided musical journey.
“The performances are far from unsympathetic, the recordings clear, warm-toned and well-balanced...Best by far is the ardent slow movement of the Second Concerto - less samey, more memorable than anything else here.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2012 ****
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