Concerto Symphonique – Virtuoso Works for Piano and Orchestra

Volume 1 Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Stojowski, Saint Saens, Litolff

IAN MUNRO (piano) & DAVID PORCELIJN (conductor)
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

ABC CLASSICS 465 424-2

reviewed by Neville Cohn

Apart from Litolff’s rather over-exposed “Scherzo” from his Concerto Symphonique No. 4, just about everything else on this CD is refreshingly off the beaten track. Some of it is wafer thin in musical terms but well worth listening to if only to savour Ian Munro’s skill in presenting these musical baubles with immense flair. Mozart’s rarely heard Rondo in A, K386 comes across beautifully, glowing with vitality and musicality. There’s nothing in the least effete or limp-wristed about Munro’s approach to the music of the Salzburg genius; an emphatic, no-nonsense approach to the score makes for bracing listening.

Munro is equally persuasive in Beethoven’s Rondo in B flat, WoO 6. An early work, it would have been a vehicle for the young composer to demonstrate the virtuosity that was his bread and butter before turning to greater things. Munro romps through the score with an ease that reminds one that for sheer facility of finger, few of his compatriots can hold a candle to him on a good day.

For all the virtuosity brought to bear on Stojowski’s Rapsodie Symphonique, one felt that, despite the most skilled needlework, one cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – and, in musical terms, that is what Stojowski’s opus amounts to. Both soloist and orchestra respond with gusto to Saint Saens’ Rapsodie d’Auvergne, maintaining a spanking pace, with Munro lavishing some quite exquisite tonal light and shade on the notes. Throughout, conductor David Porcelijn and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra provide accompaniments fit for royalty, with Munro occupying the throne with princely authority.


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