- Concerto symphonique, for piano & orchestra (or 2 pianos)
- Concerto Grosso No.1, for string orchestra & piano
- Scherzo fantasque, for piano & orchestra (or 2 pianos)
Swiss composer Ernest Bloch is largely known for his ambitious works inspired by Hebraic themes such as the cello rhapsody "Schelomo," his "Sacred Service," and "Suite Hebraïque for viola and orchestra." Far less well known are his concerted works for piano and orchestra, and on Hänssler Classic's Ernest Bloch: Works for Piano and Orchestra, piano virtuoso Jenny Lin takes them on with help from the SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslauten under the direction of Jìrí Stárek. This is the first time that all of Bloch's work in this genre have been brought under the same umbrella on CD. The "Concerto Symphonique" (1949) is certainly underrated; one of the longest piano concertos in the twentieth century, Bloch's sense of imagination, originality, and grasp of form are firing on all cylinders in this work. Although it gets off to a tentative start, once warmed up the SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslauten dives fully into this mesmerizing score, and pianist Jenny Lin pulls out all of the dramatic stops -- she has been touring with the work and her sense of familiarity with it shows here. Although Bloch is often called "neo-classic," the "Concerto Symphonique" is closer to the idiom of Miklós Rózsa, big-boned and romantic in expression with a touch of the cinematic, yet clearly conceived with the concert hall in mind and specifically for keyboard artists with the strength, stamina, and power of Jenny Lin. The "Concerto Grosso No. 1" has been recorded more often than the "Concerto Symphonique"; dating from 1925, it too is often referred to as "neo-classic" yet the designation seems no more meaningful here than it would be for the "Concerto Symphonique." In contrast to the standard sonata-allegro scheme, its four movements grow progressively longer rather than shorter. The "Scherzo fantasque" (1948) is similar to the "Concerto Symphonique," although much shorter -- it seems almost like a sketch for the larger work, although it is easily appealing on its own and the "Scherzo fantasque"'s formal concision is admirable. Lin brings an equal amount of ardor and discipline to every movement of this recording, yet reserves a lovely and sweet tone for the languid beauty of the "Pastorale and Rustic Dances" of the "Concerto Grosso." Sometimes one is impatient for the SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslauten to pick up the pace a little, but overall Hänssler Classic's Ernest Bloch: Works for Piano and Orchestra is a highly satisfying effort that makes one want to hear more of Bloch, an aspect that recordings of his better known works does not always tend to inspire.