- Rondo brillant for piano & orchestra in B flat major, Op. 233
- Piano Concerto in F major, Op. 28
The sheer volume of works by the Czech-Austrian composer Carl Czerny has made appreciation difficult, and most pianists know him only through his "School of Velocity" piano exercises, still in common use. Howard Shelley here turns to Czerny in his magisterial series of Romantic piano concertos, which reaches its 71st volume with this release. The highlight is probably the "Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 214" (sample the first movement), where Shelley nails the brilliant passagework at the top of the keyboard. This kind of thing is what kept pianists playing Czerny throughout the first half of the 19th century, even as more progressive composers came on the scene, and Shelley's performance is entirely idiomatic. The expansive "Piano Concerto in F major, Op. 28," was designated in the 1830s as an arrangement of a guitar concerto by Mauro Giuliani, a fact mentioned in Hyperion's online notes for the album, but not in its printed booklet. It's not certain who the original author was, but the unusually variegated first movement sounds more like Giuliani than Czerny. There is a concluding "Rondo brillant, Op. 233," with an adagio introduction, that has a slam-bang finale that's pure Czerny. Throughout these works (other than the "Op. 28"), there is a tendency toward square phrase structures that make you long for some kind of disruption, but Shelley makes you realize why Czerny was so successful. Part of his success is due to his conducting the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra from the keyboard; the musicians hang together nicely in some high-speed tempi. Recommended for those interested in the Beethoven orbit and the period immediately after.