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Piano Concerto No 1, Op 18
Howard Shelley, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Hyperion CDA 67765
Wilhelm Taubert (1811-1891) was a friend of Mendelssohn and a fully paid up member of the Berlin musical establishment, despite Mendelssohn’s rather lukewarm opinion of his music. The First Concerto (1833) is, as Schumann noted, very similar to Mendelssohn’s own First Concerto – uncomfortably so, I think – even down to the facile charm and absence of breaks between movements. The Second Concerto appeared 40 years later and, while its structure is somewhat different, sounds much the same and must have seemed very old-fashioned. I found its most endearing moment the soaring cello theme in the unusual andante.
Jacob Rosenhain (1813-1894) wrote his D minor Concerto in the 1840s and it’s made of altogether sterner stuff. It’s more Schumannesque, ironically, because Schumann seemed as lukewarm about Rosenhain’s later output as Mendelssohn was about Taubert’s.
I found it equally charming but more dramatic, poetic and generally interesting, with an especially winsome central andante which seems more “developed” than Taubert’s – and more inspired orchestration generally. Naturally, Howard Shelley has long been in his element in this repertoire and the TSO acquit themselves well in what has virtually become their “niche”.