Howard Shelley

The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 43: Sterndale Bennett & Bache

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Consisting of William Sterndale Bennett's Fourth Piano Concerto plus his Caprice in E major with a Piano Concerto by Bennett's student Francis Edward Bache, the repertoire here might not at first seem the sort to elicit huzzahs. Firmly in the Mendelssohnian camp of earnest but not especially adventurous early Romanticism, these works are well crafted and energetic with lots of catchy melodies, bouncy rhythms, and colorful orchestrations, but without much that seems inspired or even exciting. But Howard Shelley is one of the splashiest, flashiest pianists in England, and his playing here finds more to charm and delight in the material than one might have thought possible. Also functioning here as the conductor, Shelley elicits an equally colorful performance from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra -- remarkable in such outré repertoire. If you don't already know Mendelssohn or Schumann's concertos, you are advised to seek them out first. But if you do already and are looking for something from deeper in the catalog, you may find this album to be a hidden treasure.

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