Howard Shelley’s relationship with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra goes way back. The British performer has recorded about 13 albums with the TSO, and returns for Czerny’s Piano Concertos released on Hyperion.
As usual, Shelley adopts equally the roles of conductor and pianist. The Concerto in F Major, Op. 28 that launches the album hints at quaintness, interspersed with thick orchestral power. And this is all before we hear Shelley press the keys, entering after an agreeable three minutes. His performance is majestic – yet there’s a humbleness and reliability, and that marks
the essence of Shelley.
The Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 214 gets off to a cunning start. The first movement has the mighty ending of a finale, then settles into a somewhat peaceful Adagio con moto. The Rondo Brillant in B Flat is a standout, showcasing Shelley’s virtuosity across the instrument’s range. Two concertos are recorded here for the first time. A child prodigy who grew up to perform Beethoven’s concertos, Czerny’s own are buried among his countless studies; along with chamber music, masses, symphonies, and more.
When it comes down to it, Czerny’s works on this album are fairly unremarkable – but that doesn’t deem them unworthy of recording. Shelley has done Czerny a service by plucking these from a collection of over 1,000 compositions and sharing them with the 21st century.