Reinecke: Piano Concertos 1, 2 and 4. Simon Callaghan, Sinfoniaorchester St Gallen / Modestas Pitrėnas. © 2023 Hyperion Records Ltd

CD Spotlight

Ingeniously Crafted

GERALD FENECH welcomes Hyperion's new recording of Carl Reinecke's piano concertos

'Simon Callaghan despatches these works with passionate expressiveness ...'


The Hyperion 'Romantic Piano Concerto' bandwagon never ceases to surprise. This Volume 85 is dedicated to three of four piano concertos - Nos 1, 2 and 4 - by German composer Carl Reinecke (1824-1910), a very important name in the annals of German Romantic Music, but still unjustly underrated, as these works testify. Written respectively in 1860, 1872 and 1900, they reflect big changes both in their musical hinterland and in the composer's revolving art.

The first in F sharp minor is imbued with the influence of Mendelssohn in its graceful virtuosity, while the second in E minor finds a tone of elegiac grandeur in its Allegro and a songfulness reminiscent of Tchaikovsky in its Andantino.

Listen — Reinecke: Andantino quasi allegretto (Piano Concerto No 2 in E minor)
(CDA 68339 track 5, 0:52-1:46) ℗ 2023 Hyperion Records Ltd :

The first two movements of the fourth, coming twenty-eight years later, in B minor, represent the fruits of maturity. With virtuosity now at the service of a noble structure, its opening Allegro has a Brahmsian authority, while its Adagio has a rapt beauty worthy of Chopin.

Listen — Reinecke: Adagio ma non troppo (Piano Concerto No 4 in B minor)
(CDA 68339 track 8, 0:01-0:56) ℗ 2023 Hyperion Records Ltd :

These concertos are indeed a glorious surprise from a composer born in the year Schubert wrote his string quartet Death and the Maiden and who died in the year Alban Berg wrote his String Quartet Op 3. The second's orchestration is scored for a pair each of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns and trumpets plus timpani and strings, while the fourth is the same save for its single flute. As with its predecessors, the first movement is the only one written in the stated key of the work. Like No 2, No 4 draws on the musical language and solid craftsmanship of both Mendelssohn and Schumann of fifty years earlier, and the gently lilting second movement is reminiscent of those affecting Victorian drawing-room ballads which can suddenly touch the heart. The final Allegretto is another playful reminder of Reinecke's ability to write music of the highest order.

Listen — Reinecke: Allegretto (Piano Concerto No 4 in B minor)
(CDA 68339 track 9, 4:44-5:41) ℗ 2023 Hyperion Records Ltd :

Although somewhat neglected, these concertos are full of exquisite melodies, and they make a welcome breath of fresh air from the overperformed usual piano repertoire. Ingeniously crafted and vigorously orchestrated, these are pieces that will give much delight, and the piano spends much of its time displaying decorative figurations, a fine opportunity for the soloist to exhibit his pianistic prowess.

Simon Callaghan despatches these works with passionate expressiveness, and his remarkable knowledge of these scores allows him to execute them with exemplary elan and light-hearted joie de vivre. Modestas Pitrėnas and his Sinfonieorchester St Gallen forces offer enthusiastic support throughout and their sensitive accompaniment is compelling from beginning to end. Hopefully the third concerto is not far off. Sound and booklet notes are first-rate.

Copyright © 21 February 2023 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta



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