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Carl Czerny: Piano Concertinos in C, opus 78, & in A‑Flat, opus 650 – Fantaisie et Variations brillantes sur une Romance de Blangini in D minor, opus 3
Rosemary Tuck (piano), English Chamber Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (conductor)
Recording: St. Silas Church, Kentish Town, London, England (March 15- 17, 2022) – 75’44
Naxos 8.574458 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Booklet in English

Tucked away in her pocket, Rosemary Tuck easily pulls out fabulous delicacies in the nuance category to enliven Carl Czerny’s compositions with sparkling attire. Her musicianship is resolute, impeccably executed and well‑positioned.

Carl Czerny, while a contemporary of Frédéric Chopin, was well‑known for composing music that further developed and refined piano technique. His music, while even‑tempered, is laden with spectacular runs and colorful embellishments. Czerny mastered the art of variations and thematic collections (both his own and from other composers) from subjects taken from such figures as Beethoven, Diabelli, Bellini, Mozart, Auber and Paganini, to name a few. In balance, Carl Czerny’s “instructional” creations provide a splendid launchpad of a dizzying delight for up‑and‑coming pianists.

Australian-native Rosemary Tuck’s resume is vast and stellar: Teaming up with Richard Bonynge has resulted in fruitful outcomes, including Naxos’ recording, “Chopinesque” and its beautiful decorations by William Vincent Wallace. Wallace’s music, while widely bright and optimistically transparent, provides a logical pathway for Mlle Tuck to delve deeper into the Czerny niche.

Rosemary Tuck’s translations can be summarized as “delicate determination”: performances of these three pieces are exemplary in their personal intimacy. Quickly, one’s smitten to the wondrous delights of the music. “Wispy” well‑characterizes her rendition of Piano Concertino, opus 78. Richard Bonynge, a trained pianist himself, copiously yields tempos to Rosemary Tuck for careful maneuverability and incisive tonality. Individual and distinctive keyboard strikes throw the musical diction forward with polite and sensitive control. Each of the three movements has its own character. While the center movement (“Andantino con moto”) turns emotionally inward with sincerity and self‑examination, the closing “Rondo a la Polacca” exemplifies a world filled with free‑wheeling happiness and endless ebullience. Here, Mlle Tuck moves the section along with tinkling fascination and unbridled rapture. Stupendous!

Naxos returns to the original version for piano and orchestra in the recording of the Fantaisie et Variations brillantes sur une Romance de Blangini that was created by Carl Czerny back in 1819. Shifting between major and minor keys, the composition’s overall structure is well‑situated upon the ear. The English Chamber Orchestra acts as a template for the pianist, transferring ownership between two parties with smoothness and finesse. The opening “Andante” patiently anticipates the politely bucolic underpinnings until the distinctive cadenza is reached (4’04). The musical baseline turns back to Felice Blangini. Soft and suave, Blangini’s foundation is formal and stately that Carl Czerny forwards in his own politely-executed interpolation. Nonetheless, the composition gives ample space for Rosemary Tuck to give her own conversation about the Italian’s musical foundation.

There’s sufficient room for celebration when entering the showy Czerny piece, the Piano Concertino, opus 650. The œuvre initially slips into a comfortable cadenza where Rosemary Tuck is given time for her own stylization: the “Adagio non troppo” (4’07) moves along in gently palatable fashion with occasional interjections of hard‑to‑contain exuberances. This “prologue” cleanly rolls out an illustrious pacing while quickly approaching the “Rondo” (8’45). The composer’s music quickly broadens its wings and permits amazing virtuosity: here’s where Rosemary Tuck shines with radiance, breathing her own spectacular energy and artistic bandwidth into the piece. Richard Bonynge subtly and assiduously amps forward the tempo, thereby creating a most impressive musical climax. Humbly demure and fashionable, Richard Bonynge’s storytelling process of this difficult Czerny piece is consummate. The Opus 650 pulsates on every front!

Prolific beyond words, Carl Czerny created over 1,000 works throughout his lifetime, including symphonies, chamber music, quartets and concertos. Synonymous with technique, the music is energetic, insightful and instructional. Carl Czerny is quietly situated “beneath the clouds”, yet what he brought to the classical workbench is a feast of for the ears. Rosemary Tuck rides on an apex of unsurpassed eloquence.

Spectacular and highly recommended for pianists and classical music enthusiasts alike! Not to be missed.

Christie Grimstad




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