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This is a fascinating, rewarding coupling of two concertos both heard here in world premiere recordings. Georgy Catoire (1861-1926) was a professor at the Moscow Conservatoire (where he taught Kabalevsky). It is difficult to imagine his piano concerto served better than it is here.

However, interesting though it is to hear this music, it is not without problems. The first movement, a theme and variations, boasts a main theme that is rather aimless. Stylistically, one can find nods to Scriabin, Medtner and in particular Rachmaninov. Hiroaki Takenouchi has a superb, light touch and is flawless in the lovely Andante cantabile movement (French-perfumed music, but identifiably Russian in origin). Unfortunately, the finale loses impetus.

Percy Sherwood (1866-1939), Dresden-born and student of Draeseke, is an interesting figure whose second concerto dates from 1932/33, although you would not know it. Well behind its time in terms of harmonic and rhythmic language, it is nevertheless a serious, strongly constructed work. Takenouchi projects the lyrical flow throughout. This is an issue well worth investigating.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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