Howard Shelley

The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 40: Herz: Piano Concertos Nos. 3-5

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Of Heinrich "Henri" Herz, English musicologist George Grove once remarked: "Herz found out what the public liked and what would pay, and this he gave to them." In this, the second volume devoted the Herz's piano concertos in Hyperion's apparently endless The Romantic Piano Concerto series, English virtuoso Howard Shelley turns in performances of the Parisian, neé Viennese, composer's Third, Fourth, and Fifth works in the genre. Shelley certainly gives his considerable all to the works, tearing up and down the keyboard in the Allegros with dazzling runs, racing arpeggios, and flashing double octaves and soaring through the Andantes with a melting tone, a smooth legato, and a discreet pedal. Leading from the keyboard, Shelley also elicits first-class playing from the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, which, with its strong strings, characterful winds, and powerful brass, sounds as fine as the best orchestras from the antipodes. As for the works themselves, imagine Chopin without genius, Liszt without wit, Moscheles without charm, and Thalberg without content and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. For fans of Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series, Shelley's Herz disc will be another unexpected find. For those whose interest in the genre extends no further than Grieg or Schumann, this disc may be of marginal interest. Hyperion's sound from the Federation Concert Hall in Hobart is not nearly as warm, as full, or as deep as the sound of recordings made in the northern hemisphere.

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