Nearly unknown internationally and only remembered in his native Poland as one of the great piano pedagogues of the early years of the twentieth century, Henryk Melcer was also a composer, though he in fact composed very little and completed even less. This disc featuring his two piano concertos from the 1890s contains two-thirds of his orchestral oeuvre -- he also left a Symphony in C minor entitled "Four Romantic Pictures in the Form of a Symphony" -- and they're not half bad. Melcer has a gift for undistinguished melodies that are attractive enough while they're playing, and a skill in both keyboard writing and orchestration that makes the most of his modest gifts. What Melcer desperately lacks is organizational skills. Despite fine moments and appealing pages, these works refuse to hold together and sound less like original works than like well-wrought pastiches. Though superbly played by pianist Jonathan Plowright -- he's so on top of the notes and so in touch with the music that he might as well be playing Brahms -- and splendidly accompanied by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Christoph König, this disc will be of interest primarily to those who have been following each release in Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series with bated breath. Recorded in Glasgow City Hall in 2007 by producer Jeremy Hayes and engineer Tony Faulkner, the digital sound here is rich and creamy, but nicely detailed.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Concerto for piano & orchestra, No 1 in E minor|
|Piano Concerto No. 2|