New Release: Ernst Krenek – Complete Piano Concertos, vol. 2Mikhail Korzhev - Kenneth Woods - English Symphony Orchestra
The recordings of Ernst Krenek’s Piano Concertos no. 1–3 by Mikhail Korzhev, which were released last year, received an enthusiastic reception from the international musical world and, as an “electrifying performance,” made it straightaway on to the London Sunday Times’ shortlist of the best new releases.
Now the second CD, which with sparkling virtuosity and intellectual artistry will hopefully continue the success of the first volume of piano concertos, has appeared on Toccata Classics. Again recorded by the English Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Kenneth Woods, the formation was expanded to accommodate the works: pianist Eric Huebner in the Concerto for Two Pianos op. 127, Nurit Pacht on violin in the Concerto for Violin and Piano op. 124, and organist Adrian Partington in the Little Concerto for Piano and Organ op. 88 show themselves to be superb colleagues on a par with Mikhail Korzhev.
In particular the Fourth Piano Concerto and the Concerto for Two Pianos make it possible to localize Krenek’s neo-classical vision and, as true masterpieces, provide for brilliance and virtuosity. Both compositions, written as commissions, date from the late 1950s, when Krenek, newly married to Gladys Nordenstrom Krenek, traveled again through Europe for the first time since his emigration to the USA. The Double Concerto for Violin and Piano, composed in 1950, shows itself to be more lyrical and reserved than the two preceding pieces. Based on variations of a twelve-tone theme, the piece displays the influence of Stravinsky and Berg as well as a reminiscence of the composer’s Viennese roots. The Little Concerto, composed even earlier, namely in 1940, is similarly structured; it was premiered under Krenek’s direction at Vassar College.
With sensitively, technical dexterity, and immense inventiveness, Kenneth Woods with his orchestra and the soloists once again succeeded in presenting Krenek’s oeuvre, which was long claimed to be inaccessible and difficult, in all its originality and in fathoming the many facets from quiet humor to great expressiveness.
Mikhail Korzhev, piano
Eric Huebner, piano
Nurit Pacht, violin
Adrian Partington, organ
Kenneth Woods, English Symphony Orchestra
Toccata Classics TOCC 0392