Hans Huber – Piano Concertos 1 & 3 (Sterling)

0 of 5 stars

Piano Concerto No.1 in C minor, Op.36
Piano Concerto No.3 in D, Op.113

Dan Franklin Smith (piano)

Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra
Michail Jurowski

Recorded July 2003 in
Gustav-Siegle-Haus, Stuttgart

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: February 2004

Hans Huber (1852-1921) was born in Switzerland and studied in Leipzig. He was a fine pianist and graduated playing Schumann. He wrote his C minor concerto for himself. One might expect a youthful pianist to create a bravura showpiece; in fact, the concerto opens in shadows that do not suggest a soloist on the horizon; when the piano enters with a utilitarian barn-storming cadenza the expectation that Huber has set-up is rather lost. Never mind, though, Huber’s writing is attractively melodic and suggestive.

Having two successive slow movements is not a good idea, though, and neither is especially strong on ideas. The lively Scherzo is a winner, however, in its Mendelssohnian lightness, albeit with a likeness to Litolff’s earlier-written and famous Scherzo, yet Huber’s lyrical trio section stands out. Both these concertos have four movements, and given each work plays for around 30 minutes, Huber cannot be accused of being longwinded.

The D major piece is altogether more individual and well worth knowing – from the opening set of variations, through a rollicking Scherzo and a beautiful Intermezzo, to a finale both resolute and felicitous.

Dan Franklin Smith plays with admirable dexterity and obvious sympathy, and he is well supported. The recording is decent enough, if a little curtailed dynamically, and with a balance between piano and orchestra that is estimably concert-hall natural even though the musicians are placed rather distantly. However, this is rare repertoire; indeed its seems these are premiere recordings. Sterling has previously recorded Huber’s eight symphonies.

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