Marc-André Hamelin / Ilan Volkov

The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 53: Reger, Strauss

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Volume 53 in Hyperion's acclaimed series, The Romantic Piano Concerto, presents two works of such tonal complexity, textural density, and late vintage that they should properly be regarded as post-Romantic, though they are not outside the broad purview of this extensive survey. Certainly, Max Reger's Piano Concerto in F minor qualifies as post-Romantic by virtue of its composition date of 1910, and Richard Strauss' Burlesque in D minor, though completed in 1886, is forward-looking in its textural lushness and harmonic ripeness. Because these are also enormously challenging pieces that require phenomenal performing skills, the presence of the superb Marc-André Hamelin as soloist guarantees that they are played as accurately and brilliantly as possible. The accompaniment provided by Ilan Volkov and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra is dramatic and brooding in the Reger and vigorous and muscular in the Strauss, so Hamelin is given suitable support. Hyperion's nuanced recording captures everything with great separation, so the orchestra never overwhelms the piano, and all the inner parts are easily heard. While this album will interest fans of music from the period, casual classical listeners may find the best way to appreciate the music is by paying attention to Hamelin's artistry. Indeed, this exceptional pianist makes this CD attractive to a much wider audience than would normally seek out these works.

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