Tellefsen & Kalkbrenner: Piano Concertos

Tellefsen & Kalkbrenner: Piano Concertos

Howard Shelley (piano), Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, Howard Shelley (conductor)


A fascinating new name bursts into our Romantic Piano series with the two concertos by Thomas Tellefsen, here coupled with an extended concert piece by series stalwart Friedrich Kalkbrenner. All three works here enjoy Howard Shelley’s trademark dexterity and exuberant bravura technique.

Behind The Cover

Given that a sizeable majority of the concertos performed and recorded by today's concert pianists are all Romantic Piano Concertos, who needs a series dedicated to the genre? The truth is that the concertos in the standard repertoire represent a tiny fraction of those written: there is life beyond Brahms, Schumann, Chopin, Grieg et al, and Hyperion's RPC continues to do sterling work in exploring a vast hinterland of works by Sauer, Scharwenka, Rubinstein, Moszkowski and the rest which, for whatever reason, have fallen into varying degrees of neglect. Many of these concertos were well known and widely played by the greatest pianists of the age for many years before extinction loomed, so we should be wary of accepting posterity's judgement at face value in every case.

The cover art has remained a constant throughout, and is distinctive: a portrait of the composer(s) superimposed against a musical passage from one of the works on the album. Neither component is entirely without hazard. A great many nineteenth-century composers look disconcertingly similar: generously bearded and/or moustachioed, elderly and in evening dress. 'Like walruses', as we wrote in of the RPC blurbs. Occasionally it can be difficult to source a reliably identifiable albumen print or daguerreotype (Adolf Schulz-Evler, anyone?). So far, at least, no-one at Hyperion has had to don false whiskers for the cover portrait but it can only be a matter of time ...

And with the release of volume 86, concertos by Thomas Tellefsen plus a virtuoso filler by Friedrich Kalkbrenner, it's a particular pleasure to salute Howard Shelley's contribution to the series, which is simply impossible to overestimate. Howard is one of those rare musicians who can take a completely unknown work (by Moscheles, Herz, Hiller, Sterndale Bennett among many others) and make it sound as though he’s known and loved it all his life—just as he can take something from the standard repertoire and make it seem brand new. Watching him direct an orchestra from the keyboard is a privilege indeed (and remember, the orchestra is also new to the piece, of course).

With all of Howard's Hyperion albums recently available to stream, there is no excuse not to get to know some wonderful and little-known works in recordings which are unlikely to be bettered for artistry and brilliance.

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