Complete Works for Piano & Orchestra
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Format: Music CD, Hyperion Records. Classical music CD release from Stephen Coombs and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with the album Pierne: The Romantic Piano Concerto Vol. 34. Released on the label Hyperion Records. Classical music CD. This hard to find pre-owned music CD is fully guaranteed.
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What of the Piano Concerto itself? I've mentioned the effective scherzo second movement (I would call it "cheeky"). The first movement starts with somewhat martial maestoso music, third cousin to the opening of Beethoven's "Emperor," and the lyrical theme that follows is a bit anti-climactic, but as the movement goes on, Pierne works both up into a strong, rather solemn statement that drives to a weighty peroration that seems to owe more to Franck than, say, Saint-Saens. That first movement music is carried into the third and final movement, where it receives further development. All in all, it's not exactly memorable, but for a 23-year-old's first effort, it's more than respectable. Thanks to Hyperion, Corp, and Coombs for resurrecting it!
The CD begins with Pierne's Piano concerto, composed around 1886. It is an excellent work that draws you in from the first set of notes. The opening movement is full of energy and has a dramatic feel to it. The work models Saint-Saëns' epic Piano Concerto No. 2, which can be found on Volume 27 and parts of it sound quite similar. This is one of those works that makes you wonder why its not more performed.
The second work is Pierne's Poëme Symphonique. The piece starts off with a dark and mysterious tone that is quite intriguing. The piano continues with this tone while the orchestra counteracts. The two components eventually sync up and I found this work to be my favorite. The next work is his earliest work for Piano and Orchestra and it somewhat shows. The orchestral parts for the Fantasie-Ballet are not as intriguing as the previous works, but it is clear that the quite a bit of virtuosity is required from the pianist. The CD closes with the Scherzo-Caprice which is probably the most romantic sounding work that has nice reoccurring theme and melody.
Overall I was really surprised at the quality and consistency of all the works on this CD. The pianist for each piece is Stephen Coombs with Ronald Corp conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Every work on this CD could really stand its own against some of his contemporaries and its great that Hyperion has brought this unknown composer to surface. This is one of the best volumes in the set to date.
This performance is decent, but heard side by side with the performance by Achatz and Houtmann ] the command of the pianist is slightly lacking and the attacks by the orchestra are sometimes rough. It does have the virtue of including Pierne's other works for piano and orchestra.
None of those other works, however, are of the quality of the concerto. The Poeme symphonique is pleasant with a flourish at the end. The Fantaisie-Ballet often sounds like film music with a piano playing along. The Scherzo-Caprice, on the other hand, is more piano forward.