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Friday, October 9, 2020

Carl Czerny - Piano Concerto in D minor; etc. (Rosemary Tuck)


Composer: Carl Czerny
  1. Introduzione e Rondo Brillant in B flat major, Op. 233
  2. Piano Concerto in D minor: I. Allegro molto agitato
  3. Piano Concerto in D minor: II. Adagio
  4. Piano Concerto in D minor: III. Allegro molto vivace
  5. Introduction, Variations & Rondo on Weber's Hunting Chorus from 'Euryanthe', Op. 60

Rosemary Tuck, piano
English Chamber Orchestra
Richard Bonynge, conductor

Date: 2017
Label: Naxos



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.

-- Jed Distler, Gramophone


Carl Czerny (21 February 1791 – 15 July 1857) was an Austrian composer, teacher, and pianist of Czech origin. Born into a musical family and a child prodigy himself, Czerny began playing piano at age 3 and composing at age 7. He was one of Beethoven's numerous pupils and was the one who premiered Beethoven's Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 5. As a composer, Czerny composed a very large number of pieces (more than a thousand pieces and up to Op. 861). His books of studies for the piano are still widely used in piano teaching. Czerny had a very successful teaching career; his most famous pupil was Franz Liszt.


The Australian pianist Rosemary Tuck studied with John Winther in Canberra, with Walter Hautzig in Baltimore, and with Andrzej Esterhazy in Moscow. She has performed in the Sydney Opera House, the Southbank Centre in London, the National Concert Hall in Dublin and the Musikhuset Aarhus in Denmark. Her touring takes to the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, France, Cyprus and the USA. Since 2004 she has worked closely with Richard Bonynge, as both soloist with orchestra and collaborative pianist. Her recordings include works by Lyadov, Ketèlbey and William Vincent Wallace.


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