Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

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Arthur Rubinstein plays Brahms & Schumann

Arthur Rubinstein plays Brahms & Schumann


Brahms:

Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83

Orch. Sinfonica di RAI Torino, André Cluytens

Schumann:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

Orch. A. Scarlatti di RAI Napoli, Franco Caracciolo


Born into a family of Polish merchants, Arthur Rubinstein began exhibiting his talents at the age of five. He gave his first formal concert in Potsdam in 1900 when he was 13, and after studying with such notables as Paderewski, he made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1906. It would be another three decades, however, before he would gain international renown under the guidance of impresario Sol Hurok. Over an incredible and lengthy career, he recorded an enormous amount of the solo piano repertoire including virtually all of the works of Chopin. He was also one of the earliest champions of the Spanish and South American composers and of French composers who, in the early 20th century, were still considered "modern" such as Debussy and Dukas.

The second concerto by Johannes Brahms and the Robert Schumann piano concerto are two masterpieces of romantic piano writing. In these newly-restored live performances from 1962 and 1964, the listener can hear the interpretation of the mature Rubinstein. The fresh vigour with which he continued to play even in old age is legendary, as this recording of the 75 and 77-year-old performer demonstrates so convincingly.

The Brahms concerto in B major opus 83 was the fruit of a long inner process of composition. After the failure of the first concerto in D minor opus 15, first performed in Leipzig, the composer took his time before attempting a second one. Twenty-three years separate the two works, and it was not until 1883 that the B flat concerto was presented to audiences by Johannes Brahms himself. Described as a “piano symphony” not merely on account of its length but also due to the tight relationship between the soloist and orchestra, its thematic link with the violin concerto opus 77 is often highlighted.

In Italy, a country that Rubinstein loved to visit, Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor opus 54 was recorded under the baton of Franco Caracciolo. The three movements embrace everything that is important to the concept of Romantic Music, free handling of the theme, great emotions and tender feelings.

Arts Archives - 430812

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Idil Biret Concerto Edition - Volume 1

Idil Biret Concerto Edition - Volume 1


Grieg:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

Schumann:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54


Naxos Idil Biret Edition - 8571270

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Grieg, Schumann & Saint-Saëns - Piano Concertos

Grieg, Schumann & Saint-Saëns - Piano Concertos


Grieg:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

Saint-Saëns:

Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22

Schumann:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54


Howard Shelley (piano and conductor)

Orchestra of Opera North

Recently awarded an OBE for his service to music, March’s Disc of the Month sees Howard Shelley conduct the Opera North Orchestra from the piano.

In this latest recording Howard Shelley turns his attention to three popular works of the piano repertoire: Robert Schumann’s only completed Piano Concerto, Grieg’s single Piano Concerto and Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor. This authorative disc sheds new light on these well-loved works and is the first time all three piano concertos have been made available on one disc.

Shelley explains the reasons behind the new elucidations. ‘Ever since I first fell in love with the Schumann Piano Concerto in my early teens, I have been intrigued and slightly puzzled by the tradition of slowing the fourth bar of the Allegro affettuoso first movement to what is effectively no more than an Andante, even though there is no indication of any tempo shift in the score. A metronome marking of 84 to the minim, taken from Schumann’s manuscript, is given in almost all editions of this work, reducing only to 72 to the dotted minim for the central Andante expressivo section. These are extraordinarily fast basic tempos. There are similar issues in the second movement of the Schumann – a surprisingly fast metronome mark, suggesting perhaps a lighter lyricism than we are sometimes used to, especially in the big cello melody - and also in the first movement of the Saint-Seans Second Conceto, which is often taken at about half its marked speed. As for the Grieg Concerto, we are fortunate to have Percy Grainger’s very informative and detailed notes on this piece as he discussed it with the composer. Elsewhere he points out that Grieg’s tempos were generally faster than when others played the piece. These are some of the considerations which have led to the interpretations on this recording. Directing a highly responsive orchestra from the keyboard has also allowed me great freedom in realising my ideas.’

“…a modern version of Schumann's Piano Concerto that actually sounds like Schumann. Howard Shelley's performance is refreshingly free from empty showmanship or narcissistic 'pianism'. The Grieg and Saint-Saëns concertos are also full of lovely things, especially the slow movement coda for the Grieg - this music can touch without being the slightest bit sentimental or oversweet.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2009 *****

“Outstanding performances” Classic FM Magazine, February 2012

“What a good idea to add to that favourite among LP couplings Saint-Saëns's most Bachian concerto, No 2. And the pleasure doesn't stop there.
Howard Shelley is one of those musicians who quietly goes about his pianistic (and now conductorly) business without grabbing the limelight except for the odd award, but who is consistently impressive, unfailingly musical and only goes into the studio when he has something to say about a work. That is certainly the case here.
It's a particular delight to hear a reading odf the Schumann as fleet and joyous as this one.
These are intimate performances, an effect no doubt enhanced by the fact that Shelley directs from the piano. Intimate but also sharply characterised.
And when virtuosity is required, Shelley provides it in spades. Take the finale of the Schumann: textures are wonderfully transparent, the dotted rhythms are perky and precise, and there are plenty of striking colours from the orchestra (which throughout the disc proves itself a fine ensemble, with some particularly outstanding wind-players).
Shelley is just as persuasive in the Grieg, coaxing from the orchestra a real sense of narrative, some lovely oboe-playing and allowing the big tunes due space but never over-indulging them.
The concerto's irresistible yearning quality is well caught too, particularly in the central movement, where he is almost a match for Lipatti. Again, tempi are generally fleet, and Shelley pays attention both to the marcato marking of the finale and its folk tinges without overstatement. These are certainly performances to put alongside the classics.
Technically, the Saint-Saëns is an ideal vehicle for Shelley's fingery kind of pianism and he is exceptional in the Allegro scherzando, the movement that out-Mendelssohns Mendelssohn.
Again, the orchestra is utterly focused. The recorded quality here, as elsewhere, is exemplary.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“These are intimate performances, an effect no doubt enhanced by the fact that Shelley directs from the piano. Intimately but also sharply characterised. And when virtuosity is required, Shelley provides it in spades. Technically, the Saint-Saëns is an ideal vehicle for Shelley's fingery kind of pianism and he is exceptional in the Allegro scherzando, the movement that our-Mendelssohns Mendelssohn.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2009

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Chandos - CHAN10509

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Martha Argerich & Gidon Kremer

Martha Argerich & Gidon Kremer


Schumann:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

Martha Argerich (piano)

Violin Concerto in D minor, WoO 23

Gidon Kremer (violin)


“In her live recording of the Piano Concerto Martha Argerich gives a vividly compelling, characteristically volatile reading, at once poetic and full of fancy, powerful and often wildly individual… one wants to cheer at the end so freely does the adrenalin flow… this remains an inspirational account that is hard to resist” The Penguin Guide ***

“Argerich combines phenomenal pianism with temperamental intensity, although at times she overwhelms Schumann's lyricism. Gidon Kremer gives a richly characterised account of the Violin Concerto.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2009 ****

Warner Classics Maestro - 2564693685

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Schumann: Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra

Schumann: Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra


Schumann:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

Introduction & Allegro appassionato in G major, Op. 92

Introduction and Allegro Op. 134


Presto CD

Sony - SK64577

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Grieg & Schumann - Piano Concertos

Grieg & Schumann - Piano Concertos


Grieg:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

Schumann:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54


“Thoroughly musical performances, with lovely playing from soloist and orchestra, and reliable and engaging interpretations. In the final analysis, however, they are perhaps a shade too generalised.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2009 ****

Warner Classics - Classics for Pleasure - 2283682

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Schumann - Piano Concerto

Schumann - Piano Concerto


Schumann:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

Fantasiestücke, Op. 12


Florian Henschel (piano)

The concerto for solo piano has always remained something of an enigma amongst Schumann’s piano works. Various editions of the work exist in libraries and museums around the world. The version used on this recording is taken from the original version of the autographed score now housed in the British Library. A fascinating and rarely heard work played with assured passion and dedication by Florian Henschel.

Neos Classics - NEOS30805

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Dinu Lipatti plays Grieg, Schumann & Lipatti

Dinu Lipatti plays Grieg, Schumann & Lipatti


Grieg:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

rec. 1947

Philharmonia Orchestra, Alceo Galliera

Lipatti:

Concertino en style classique, Op. 3

rec. 1943

Berlin CO, Hans von Benda

Schumann:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

rec. 1948

Philharmonia Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan


Dinu Lipatti (piano)

Opus Kura - OPK2072

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Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90, etc.

Brahms:

Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90

Schumann:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

Strauss, R:

Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28


Live Recording 1955

Orfeo - Orfeo d'Or - C746071B

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Great Pianists - Claudio Arrau

Great Pianists - Claudio Arrau

1939-1946 Recordings


Schumann:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

Recorded 4th December, 1944 in the Masonic Temple, Detroit

Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Karl Krueger

Carnaval, Op. 9

Recorded 3rd and 4th April, 1939 in EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 3, London

Strauss, R:

Burleske for Piano and orchestra in D minor, AV85

Recorded 13th April, 1946 in Orchestra Hall, Chicago

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Désiré Defauw


The 1939 recording of Schumann’s Carnaval is one of Arrau’s finest recordings. A contemporary reviewer stated that, “This magnificent recording shows convincingly that Carnaval is one of the masterpieces of piano literature and that Arrau is a great pianist… The recording itself is of the highest quality, better far than any record previously made by Arrau, and the performance – as I ought to have made clear by now – is of supreme artistic value and completely satisfying in every respect.”

Richard Strauss’s Burleske was recorded at a morning session on 13th April 1946 at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, followed immediately by Weber’s Konzertstück (Naxos 8.111263). The 1944 recording of Schumann’s Piano Concerto was recorded in one session of one hour and 45 minutes, with the first side of the second movement and both sides of the last movement done in single takes.

Naxos Historical Great Pianists - 8111265

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