The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: BBC Music Magazine asks 10 concert pianists to name 10 unknown piano concertos that deserve more attention and performances. | February 22, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

Maybe you were lucky enough to attend the gala showcase concert two weeks ago where winners (below) of the annual Concerto Competition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music performed. (They are below in a photo by Michael R. Anderson. From left they are: Keisuke Yamamoto, Ivana Urgcic, Jason Kutz and Anna Whiteway.)

2014 Concerto Winners

Here is a link to a preview post:

If so you heard some relatively unknown works by Ernest Chausson (a Poem for Violin and Orchestra played by Yamamoto) and Francois Borne (a Fantasy on Themes from “Carmen” for flute and orchestra played by Urgcic) plus soprano Whiteway singing a famous aria from “Romeo and Juliet” by Charles Gounod.).

But the finale was Kutz (below) playing a somewhat truncated version – edited for time constraints of the competition — of the famous “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Jason Kutz playing Rachmaninoff Rhapsody 2015

Kurtz did a bang-up job of this great work, which for The Ear, may just be his best and most concise work for piano and orchestra.

You just can’t beat that work’s ultra-Romantic 18th Variation – at the bottom in a popular YouTube video with pianist Arthur Rubinstein and Fritz Reiner conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – that is, a friend remarked, much like the “Nimrod” Variation of Sir Edward Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations. It is irresistible and never fails.

But the concerto repertoire is such a rich one! There is something just so appealing about seeing the dramatic cooperation bertween the soloist and the orchestra.

So I was pleased to see that the BBC Music Magazine recently asked 10 concert pianists to name 10 concertos that they think are neglected and should be better known and performed more often.

The story included enlightening statements as well as audio-video clips of excerpts.

So in the spirit on the concerto winners, here is a link to the story:

Read and listen and see what you think.

The Ear knows a fair number of piano concertos, but a lot of these were new to him.

What do you think of the list?

And do you have any names of concertos and composers to add to the list?

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. The Busoni concerto was played by the Madison Symphony Orchestra in the 1960s, Gunnar Johansen as soloist. He had just given the New York premeire of this gigantic work. A CD of the Busoni, played by Johansen, and with a German orchestra, is available. Robert Graebner

    Comment by Robert Graebner — February 22, 2015 @ 6:38 pm

  2. One of the pianists, Imogen Cooper, recommended 2 piano works, but the article unfortunately only included links to one, Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns #4. That’s a very nice work and truly many of his works need to be performed more, especially his chamber music.

    But I like the other one she mentioned, C. Franck’s Symphonic Variations. Here’s a link to Nelson Freire playing that work:

    Samuel Feinberg’s Piano Concerto #3 should also be included on any such list. He was a gifted Russian pianist and composer. Here’s a link to a performance of his Third:

    Szymanowski’s 4th Symphony (Concertante for Piano and Orchestra) probably also should be played more, but it is full of ‘modern’ sounds that many might find harsh.

    Comment by fflambeau — February 22, 2015 @ 3:25 am

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