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Ponce’s Concierto del sur for guitar (1941) has previously overshadowed his other concertos, two for piano (1910 and 1945) and one for violin (1943). Indeed, the guitar concerto has been recorded more times than the other three combined – and the Second Piano Concerto here receives its first recording.

Concerto No 1’s three movements play continuously to form a giant, single span written in the High Romantic manner. Thus, the central Andantino amoroso equates to the second subject group of conventional sonata structure, the ensuing Allegretto and Allegro ‘come prima’ sections being then partly episodic developments. The 21-minute concerto is rounded off by a vibrant Allegro drawing the expressive and musical threads together.

Only two movements of the Second Piano Concerto were complete at Ponce’s death. Curiously, Schonthal’s finale – described by Rodolfo Ritter in his informative booklet note as lacking Ponce’s ‘distinctive personality’ – is not included here but will be given on a later disc. The Second’s leaner textures look enticingly towards neoclassicism but need a bravura finale.

Ritter is a fine interpreter with a real feel for Ponce’s idioms, whether the late Romanticism of the First Concerto or the less opulent manner of the Second – or, indeed, the unaccompanied Preludios encadenados (1927) and Cuatro danzas mexicanas (1941). This vividly recorded disc, from a live concert in December 2012, is completed – and commenced – by the exuberant orchestral work Ferial, conducted with verve by Rodolfo’s sister, Zaeth (director of the Mexican Navy symphonic band). Recommended.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2015 - ©Rhinegold Publishing