Goetz Piano Concerto No 2; Wieniawski Piano Concerto
Goetz’s Second Concerto was first recorded in the early 1970s by Michael Ponti, one of many forgotten gems he unearthed for the Vox Candide label in a pioneering series. It stood out among the Raffs, the Reineckes and the Rheinbergers not merely for its memorable thematic material but for the original and inventive way the subject matter was handled, its imaginative use of the orchestra and its musical integrity. There is, to be sure, plenty to keep the soloist busy but little that is flashy or meretricious, especially in Hamish Milne’s hands. Ponti’s is a fine performance (though the recorded sound and orchestral playing cannot compare with Hyperion’s), always ready to push the music forward in an exciting manner, but he is not as successful in conveying the Mässig bewegt of Goetz’s first movement. Milnes finds a deal more depth and poetry here and in the second movement, which also features some lovely passages for the woodwind and horns. It is a long work at 40'48" but does not outstay its welcome for a moment. This is among the most rewarding concertos of Hyperion’s entire series.
The Józef Wieniawski, as a friend of mine would say, is an autre kettle of poisson: pure fun, high jinks and scintillating bravura. Christopher Fifield notes in his entertaining booklet that “the music is peppered with instructions such as risoluto, furioso and grandioso…the piano plays for most of the time, no distractions [from the orchestra] wanted by its attention-seeking composer” (who was, by the way, the younger brother of the more famous Henryk). Milne plays it up to the hilt (try the spectacular rondo-finale with its “wrong note” chordal motif), relegating Setrak’s 1987 Le Chant du Monde recording to silver-medal position.