Cédric Tiberghien

The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 60: Dubois

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This release is the 60th in an ongoing series, with no end in sight, devoted to the Romantic piano concerto. Hyperion has uncovered lots of music that can shake up the repertory of the same dozen concertos that get played and recorded repeatedly, and this outing contains music that's at least diverting and often more. Théodore Dubois was an established composer of his time, and thus was discarded when modernist orthodoxy required narratives of progress. But he was far from merely academic. The three works here span 40 years, and each treats inherited forms with an attractive freedom. The opening Concerto capriccioso in C minor of 1876 is the most conservative of the group, but its wandering slow introduction is languidly pleasant. The Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, from 1897, is in the Saint-Saëns orbit, but its four-movement form, with a fantasia rather than a triumphal flourish for its finale, is novel. Still more interesting is the Suite for piano and string orchestra, written in 1917 when Dubois was 80. It is quite a modern work, not harmonically but formally, breaking up the opposition between piano and orchestra in a series of small lyrical moments that bring to mind Milhaud or Poulenc. Would that every composer were so open to new influences at that age! French pianist Cédric Tiberghien gets the virtuosity level right (high, but never showy), and conductor Andrew Manze, stepping out of his Baroque field of specialty, gets properly clean, restrained results from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. A fine offbeat find for lovers of French music, although except in the final work Dubois is more Germanic than French.

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