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Hyperion’s series of Romantic Piano Concertos reaches its 56th volume with this issue. Kalkbrenner’s First and Fourth Concertos were issued back in 2006. Perhaps Nos 2 and 3 were deferred because of the somewhat workaday nature of the opening of the Second Concerto (1826). Even the devotion of the Tasmanians cannot save it, and though short, it seems overlong.

When he enters, Shelley reminds us of why he is so suited to this repertoire: the sparkling passagework is impeccably and suavely delivered. Interaction between piano and orchestra is beautiful: the flute additions to the piano’s ornamentation are delightful. Yet there remains plenty of padding; better is the leisurely expansion of the slow movement. Entitled ‘La Tranquilité’, this section is replete with Chopinesque flights and offers the perfect foil for the almost naively happy finale, the cadenza of which brings some stunning playing from Shelley.

Dating from three years later, the Third Concerto is shorn of slow movement (replaced by a brief ‘Introduzione del Rondo’). The concerto’s gentle beginning and effective use of solo cello mark it as a subtler piece than its companion here. The slow introduction to the finale is even more Chopinesque than ‘La Tranquilité’; incurable jollity follows.

Finally, the Adagio ed Allegro di bravura (1830) is a magnificently chosen filler, a bonne bouche that perfectly showcases Shelley’s considerable talents without making any real demands on the listener. Kalkbrenner remains an interesting figure, and these works deserve attention.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing