Howard Shelley – Schumann, Grieg & Saint-Saëns Piano Concertos

0 of 5 stars

Schumann
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.54
Grieg
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.16
Saint-Saëns
Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor, Op.22

Orchestra of Opera North
Howard Shelley (piano)

Recorded 4 & 5 July 2008 in Victoria Hall, Leeds Town Hall


Reviewed by: Antony Hodgson

Reviewed: March 2009
CD No: CHANDOS CHAN 10509
Duration: 79 minutes

tutti passages from orchestra have convincing power. In the past, I have occasionally complained about the balancing of the timpani in Chandos recordings but here these instruments sound very realistic – especially so in the scherzo of the Saint-Saëns where they are very important although their rhythmic patterns are required to be played quietly. This makes it a challenge to capture these instruments accurately but here they are very clear.

Naturally this sonic success is aided by the excellence of the timpanist. If, as here, the drum crescendo that commences the Grieg immediately grasps the attention by its forcefulness then it is a good indication that the conductor will ensure that the orchestral performance will remain vivid throughout and so it is here. Indeed the whole programme is notable for the intensity of the playing. Since solo instrument and orchestra are both the responsibility of Howard Shelley it is greatly to his credit that the attention is held from beginning to end.

These are very familiar works – in particular the Grieg and Schumann have been coupled innumerable times – but Shelley brings a refreshing and often very different approach to these pieces, commendably based on faithfulness to the printed scores.

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