ERNST KRENEK: COMPLETE PIANO CONCERTOS, VOLUME ONE

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The piano concertos of Ernst Krenek (1900–91) are major contributions to the twentieth-century repertoire, comparable to those of Bartók, Prokofiev, Schoenberg and Shostakovich, but astonishingly two of them have never had commercial recordings – an omission this series seeks to redress. Piano Concertos Nos. 1–3, written between 1923 and 1946, show Krenek throwing off the constraints of tonality in favour of a freewheeling, individual use of twelve-tone technique, brimming with colour and often animated with a keen sense of wit.

Mikhail Korzhev
English Symphony Orchestra
Kenneth Woods

 

Catalogue No: TOCC0323
EAN/UPC: 5060113443236
Release Date: 01.03.2016
Composer: Ernst Krenek
Artists: English Symphony Orchestra, Kenneth Woods, Mikhail Korzhev

 

 

 

Krenek inlay

Critical praise for Krenek Piano Concertos, vol. 1 With KW and the English Symphony Orchestra

 

“A witty and mercurial masterpiece. Electric performances, all.” “Essential New Release of the Week”

 The Sunday Times

 

“Disque Du Jour” Radio Classique, France, 26 May, 2016

 

“These well-sprung performances benefit from the sharply focused acoustic of the Wyastone Concert Hall… with a forthright and eloquent soloist in Mikhail Korzhev, there’s no mistaking the edgy fervour of Krenek at his best.” Gramophone

 

“Performances are first-rate: Mikhail Korzhev proves a superbly stylish, fearless and eloquent exponent, and he enjoys admirable support from a hugely spirited English Symphony Orchestra under Kenneth Woods’s unfailingly cogent lead. Both the production and presentation likewise leave nothing to be desired. Do lend an ear to this brave and rewarding issue. Five Stars” Classical Ear

 

 “On the evidence of the first three, magisterially delivered by Korzhev, they should rank at least with Prokofiev and Hindemith. The accompanying English Symphony Orchestra are somewhat out of theirusual area, but seem to relish their role under the firm direction of Kenneth Woods, doing for Krenek here what he did previously for Gál—five stars” International Piano

 

“I’m not sure how one should perform the music, my never having heard it before, but I can’t imagine anyone doing it any better than this. Korzhev’s piano playing is scintillating, Woods’s direction is warmly encouraging, and the orchestra is uniformly precise, together giving the score all the interpretive support it could ask for. It’s hard to imagine any other pianist, conductor, or orchestra doing anything more for Krenek’s work.” Classical Candor

 

“Both are superb appetisers for Krenek’s startlingly brilliant Third Concerto, its 13 minutes smarter than many 50-minute symphonies. Five short movements have the soloist sparring with different orchestral sections, before a rousing atonal fugue closes proceedings – like a grumpier, dodecaphonic version of Britten’s Young Person’s Guide. At one point the soloist duets with the orchestral harpist by reaching inside the lid and strumming the piano strings. Mikhail Korzhev is a heroic soloist, gamely accompanied by Kenneth Woods’ English Symphony Orchestra. Brass and percussion are particularly impressive. And what good sleeve notes: three essays, by music historian, conductor and pianist respectively. Each one a joy to read and full of insight, outlining with erudition and passionate enthusiasm exactly why these pieces demand to be heard. More please.” The Arts Desk


 “Korzhev, who previously has recorded selections from the composer’s solo piano music, proves to be a dedicated and capable guide in this rare repertoire. Conductor Woods (to whom we are indebted for recordings of the symphonies of Hans Gál) is equally proficient, and the English Symphony Orchestra gives no indication that this is not music they have lived with for years.” Fanfare (Philip Scott)

 

“What is probably most important, however, is that all three of the concertos on this album are easily accommodating to the inquisitive and attentive listener. Toccata Classics seems to make the case that listening to Krenek should be a journey of discovery; and, from that point of view, both Korzhev and Woods are excellent “guides” for those who commit to making that journey” The Examiner

 

“I cannot imagine finer performances of Ernst Krenek’s piano concertos than these from Mikhail Korzhev with the English Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Woods” The Classical Reviewer