Thursday 9 August 2018

CD Review (The Straits Times, August 2018)

POTTER Piano Concertos Nos.2&4
Variations di Bravura
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Hyperion 68151 / ****1/2

The English composer Philip Cipriani Hambley Potter (1792-1871), or known as just Cipriani Potter, is so obscure that these are the first recordings of any of his piano concertos. A highly-regarded piano virtuoso during his time, he was responsible for the first performances in the British Isles of Beethoven's Third and Fourth Piano Concertos and the London version of Brahms' A German Requiem (scored for 2 pianos). 

Being a close associate of Beethoven and admirer of Rossini, his music reflected the tastes of the late classical period with a predilection for the bel canto idiom.

His Second Piano Concerto in D minor (1832) opens with the same urgency as Mozart's famous piano concerto in the same key, and develops in the manner of many early Romantic composers who were keyboard showmen. Hummel, Weber, Field and Mendelssohn all come to mind. 

The Fourth Piano Concerto in E major (1835) is no more modern in innovation of piano writing, but both concertos possess sumptuous slow movements which share similar inspirations as the earlier Nocturnes of Chopin. 

The Variations Di Bravura (1829), based on an aria from the almost-forgotten opera Mathilde Di Shabran by Rossini, completes this virtuoso showcase which British pianist Howard Shelley (leading from the piano) pursues with characteristic vigour and scintillating aplomb.

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