- Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major
- Concerto for piano & orchestra in B flat, Op 18
Among the hardest of hard luck stories of nineteenth century composers is the story of Hermann Goetz. An accomplished pianist and a gifted composer, Goetz died of tuberculosis at 36, leaving behind a wife and daughter -- and a reputation that soon sank into oblivion along with his two operas, two symphonies, two piano concertos plus numerous other works. This disc coupling the two piano concertos is quite impressive in its way, but finally fails to make the case for Goetz. The youthful, four-movement-in-one "E flat Concerto" is more an exercise in romantic rhetoric and heroic virtuosity than a cogent piece of musical architecture, and while the mature three-movement "B flat major Concerto" is more cohesive, it is likewise marred by the same imbalance between a very prominent piano part and a mostly supportive orchestral accompaniment. Still, the E flat major is a remarkable enough piece of work to merit a hearing every once and a while by fans of mid-nineteenth century German Romanticism, and this one featuring pianist Volker Banfield with Werner Andreas Albert leading the Radio-Philharmonie Hannover des NDR is clearly the winner in the field it has almost to itself. Banfield may slip a few notes here or there and bang a chord change now and then, but he at least seems committed to the music and that counts for a lot. Albert and the Hannover band accompany him faithfully and well and CPO's digital sound is colorful but cool and a bit distant.