CZERNY Piano Concerto
The third release in Naxos’s survey of Carl Czerny’s works for piano and orchestra offers two recorded premieres, both dating from the industrious musician’s relatively early years. It would be easy to disparage the three-movement D minor Concerto from 1811 12 as Czerny imitating his teacher Beethoven (the Violin Concerto and the Third Piano Concerto often come to mind), notably in the long first movement’s prominent timpani and darkly declamatory passages, although the major-key theme’s woodwind-writing oddly foreshadows Brahms. The flashy and adroit solo part tends to ramble, despite its seductive surface elegance. By contrast, the relatively brief second movement features intriguing interplay between the piano and horns, and its exuberant peroration leads directly into a bracing finale where the horns lead the hunt, so to speak. Granted, some of Czerny’s ideas bog down and never quite develop or take wing; but one should cut the budding 20-year-old composer some slack.
The other disc debut turns out to be an equally ‘horny’ work. Although the Hunting Chorus from Weber’s Euryanthe purports to be the centrepiece of this Introduction, Variations and Rondo, poor Czerny just can’t get Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto out of his system, as the declamatory gestures and runs in double notes blatantly bear out. Rosemary Tuck’s technical poise and genuine feeling for the idiom make a compelling case for these flawed but interesting works, while the balance between the soloist and the English Chamber Orchestra under Richard Bonynge’s solidly supportive leadership replicates the perspective one might perceive in a modest-size concert hall.
Although we don’t know exactly when Czerny wrote his Introduzione e Rondo brillant, the piano-writing finally breaks free of Beethoven, imbibing in Weber-like glitter with some healthy Chopinesque seasoning. Here, however, Tuck’s even-keeled pianism faces competition from Howard Shelley’s more incisive and characterful Hyperion traversal, which also benefits from superior engineering and orchestral playing. Still, this disc’s two previously unrecorded compositions are worth investigating.