Magazine article Gramophone

Sterndale Bennett: 'The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol 74

Magazine article Gramophone

Sterndale Bennett: 'The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol 74

Article excerpt

Sterndale Bennett 'The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol 74' Piano Concertos--No 1, Op 1; No 2, Op 4; No 3, Op 9 BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Howard Shelley pf Hyperion (F) CDA68178 (80' * DDD)

These three concertos were composed in the early 1830s, while Bennett was still a teenager and a student at the RAM. Malcolm Binns recorded them for Lyrita some three decades ago--scintillating performances that captured the music's youthful elan. Now we have Howard Shelley conducting from the piano in the 74th instalment of Hyperion's seemingly inexhaustible survey of Romantic concertos. And fine as Binns's accounts are, Shelley's are finer still.

Musically, these works display a variety of influences: Mozart, Mendelssohn and the London Piano School (Clementi, Cramer and Bennett's teacher Cipriani Potter). The solo writing is fluent but can veer towards flash and fluff. Binns--sensibly, I think--keeps the music taut and streamlined, executing the glittering passages with classical poise and a minimum of fuss. Shelley is far more daring, savouring and often sculpting the virtuoso flights of fancy--and, in general, elicits a wealth of expressive detail from material that might appear unremarkable on its surface. …

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