Robert Schumann (1810-1856) – Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 54, Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) – Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 16, Camille Saint-Säens (1835-1921) – Piano Concerto nº 2, in G Minor, op. 22 – Shelley, Orchestra of North Opera

cover frontEstes concertos de Schumann e de Grieg parecem ser siameses, não acham? É quase impossível encontrar um longe do outro, a maioria dos pianistas optam em gravá-los juntos. Claro, são dois pilares do romantismo, ambos são escritos em Lá Menor, etc.
O experiente pianista e condutor Howard Shelley (seria um descendente do poeta inglês Percy Shelley?) faz algumas travessuras por aqui, os mais puristas vão ficar de cabelos em pé. Afinal, para que mais do mesmo? Vamos mudar algumas coisas por aqui. Então foi lá e alterou radicalmente os tempos do Concerto de Schumann, parece que está com pressa de chegar em algum lugar, tipo, vamos acabar isso logo, tenho hora no dentista.
Mas estamos em pleno século XXI então vamos curtir novidades, mesmo em um repertório tão batido e gravado. E vamos dar voz a quem entende do assunto, a saber, a revista britânica Grammophone:

What a good idea to add to that favourite among LP couplings Saint-Saëns’s most Bachian concerto, No 2. And the pleasure doesn’t stop there. Howard Shelley is one of those musicians who quietly goes about his pianistic (and now conductorly) business without grabbing the limelight except for the odd award, but who is consistently impressive, unfailingly musical and only goes into the studio when he has something to say about a work. That is certainly the case here. 
It’s a particular delight to hear a reading of the Schumann as fleet and joyous as this one. These are intimate performances, an effect no doubt enhanced by the fact that Shelley directs from the piano. Intimate but also sharply characterised. And when virtuosity is required, Shelley provides it in spades. Take the finale of the Schumann: textures are wonderfully transparent, the dotted rhythms are perky and precise, and there are plenty of striking colours from the orchestra (which throughout the disc proves itself a fine ensemble, with some particularly outstanding wind-players).
Shelley is just as persuasive in the Grieg, coaxing from the orchestra a real sense of narrative, some lovely oboe-playing and allowing the big tunes due space but never over-indulging them. The concerto’s irresistible yearning quality is well caught too, particularly in the central movement, where he is almost a match for Lipatti. Again, tempi are generally fleet, and Shelley pays attention both to the marcato marking of the finale and its folk tinges without overstatement. These are certainly performances to put alongside the classics.

Technically, the Saint-Saëns is an ideal vehicle for Shelley’s fingery kind of pianism and he is exceptional in the Allegro scherzando, the movement that out-Mendelssohns Mendelssohn. Again, the orchestra is utterly focused. The recorded quality here, as elsewhere, is exemplary.

Então, tá. E vamos ao que viemos.

01. Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 54 – 1 – Allegro affettuoso
02. Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 54 – 2 – Intermezzo. Andantino grazioso
03. Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 54 – 3 – Allegro vivace
04. Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 16 – 1 – Allegro molto moderato
05. Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 16 – 2 – Adagio
06. Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 16 – 3 – Allegro moderato molto e marcato
07. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, op. 22 – 1 – Andante sostenuto
08. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, op. 22 – 2 – Allegro scherzando
09. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, op. 22 – 3 – Presto

Orchestra of Opera North
Howard Shelley – Piano & Conductor

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