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Lions and Lionesses

Romantic music for
piano and orchestra
reviewed by

MSR Classics    MS 1196

Rondo Brillante - Early Romantic Works  for Piano and Orchestra. © 2006 Joshua Pierce

The word Romantic applied to the arts generally means one thing clearly, that the purpose of art is to arouse emotions. In music, the term Romantic tends in particular to imply the involvement of the drawing room pianoforte, either for art song accompaniment or for solo playing. The piano also featured in concert performances with orchestra.

The early 19th century manifestations of this Romantic piano music is not to everyone's liking, perhaps especially not when the out-of-tune-sounding fortepiano is used. But the Romantic piano undoubtedly produces music that listeners should know about, even if not to love. This CD is an excellent way to hear five of the most well-known names -- Reinecke [listen -- track 1, 3:48-5:18], Hummel, Czerny, Weber and Mendelssohn.

Insofar as their music here is concerned, any emotions it aroused would have been among young ladies in the audience in the 1810s to 1840s, and even then would have been due not so much to the piano as to the pianist.

As this CD's booklet observes, 'every well-brought-up young lady took lessons from as handsome, as poetic and as swashbuckling a budding piano virtuoso as her family could afford. These young lions wrote easy pieces for their still younger charges and showy, difficult-sounding pieces for themselves to play in public -- with orchestra if possible.'

The young lions broke lionesses' hearts with their rendering of rondos, a favourite item in such concerts. A descendent of rondeaux in mediaeval French poetry, the form survives and is still popular in the 21st century. Early 19th century audiences knew it as a rondo brillante.

The tyrant Czerny, for example, mesmerised actual and would-be pianists with flourishes and decoration and suchlike keyboard tricks, although the music did little more than rush up and down diatonic scales and arpeggi [listen -- track 3, 13:00-14:22].

Such, however, were the humble and, to modern ears, tedious beginnings of the piano-with-orchestra tradition, which became a mainstay of the classical repertoire and the maker of many piano fortunes.

Copyright © 5 October 2006 George Balcombe, London UK


Rondo Brillante - Early Romantic Works for Piano and Orchestra

MS 1196 Stereo NEW RELEASE 61'11" 2006 Joshua Pierce

Joshua Pierce, piano; Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra; Bystrìk Rezucha, conductor

Carl Reinecke (1824-1910): Concertstück in G minor Op 33; Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837): Introduzione and Rondo Brillant in A Op 56; Carl Czerny (1791-1857): Introduction and Rondo Brillante in B flat minor Op 255; Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826): Concertstück in F minor Op 79; Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847): Rondo Brillante in E flat Op 29





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