Howard Shelley / Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 66 - Herz: Piano Concerto No. 2

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Austrian-French virtuoso Henri Herz has already appeared twice in the Hyperion label's giant series devoted to the Romantic piano concerto, and that's as it should be. Although Schumann disparaged Herz, he was a famous figure at the time, touring the world and even writing a book about his experiences in the U.S. (it's available in English for those who want to hunt for it). His eight piano concertos seem to absorb the structural tuition of Beethoven as they go along; the later ones are quite concise and elegantly developed. This third album is a bit less desirable, with the self-consciously Beethovenian Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 74, as the only piano concerto. There is nothing objectionable about any of the music here, but the rest of the album consists of opera paraphrase music that was primarily designed, in the absence of recordings, to transmit catchy melodies to audiences in a flashy package. As usual, pianist Howard Shelley, leading the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, enters into the spirit of the music, and the engineering in Hobart's Federation Concert Hall is very strong.

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