Martin Helmchen

Schumann, Dvorák: Piano Concertos

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Two piano concertos. One, Op. 54 in A minor by Robert Schumann, is among the most widely performed and varyingly interpreted concertos in the Romantic repertoire. The other, Op. 33 in G minor by Antonín Dvorák, is rarely performed and is often cast aside as a less-worthy example compared to others written around the same time. Putting these two concertos together on this PentaTone album is pianist Martin Helmchen. Among his primary goals in these recordings is adherence to the score in matters of tempo and rubato; in the case of the Dvorák concerto, Helmchen even uses much of Dvorák's original score rather than the often-used edition by Dvorák's contemporary, Vilém Kurz. Joined by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg under Marc Albrecht, Helmchen puts forth convincing performances of both concertos. His technique is quite solid, voicing is clear, and dialogue with the orchestra is much more fluid and organic than is often heard in the Schumann concerto. Interpretively, Helmchen's playing is slightly dry, particularly in the Dvorák, which could use a little extra drama to elevate it to the same status as the Schumann. Still, hearing more of the original score is a welcome feature. PentaTone's sound is robust and clear throughout, and the multi-channel SACD track is exceptionally spacious.

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