Gál Piano Concerto Op 57 & Mozart Piano Concerto No. 22

Hans Gál: Piano Concerto Op 57 & Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 22—Sarah Beth Briggs, piano; Royal Northern Sinfonia/Kenneth Woods (Avie 2358)

Here is The Guardian’s take on this world premiere recording of a virtually unknown concerto by Hans Gál, the Austrian pianist/composer: “Conductor Kenneth Woods and the Royal Northern Sinfonia have been recording Hans Gál’s symphonies recently; now they combine, joining pianist Sarah Beth Briggs, to blow the dust off the composer’s Piano Concerto.  Gál and his family fled Vienna in 1938, and perhaps if he had reached the US he might have joined fellow emigres in becoming a great composer for film – there is a touch of Korngold in his style, albeit with more piquancy and a lot less sugar – but he ended up in Edinburgh, writing prolifically for the concert hall. If this premiere recording persuades more pianists to take up this sweeping, lyrical concerto, then all to the good.  Briggs’s playing is shapely but unassuming, which underlines the skillful transparency of Gál’s writing as well as how much of an ensemble piece this is. It is paired with a reticent yet still elegant performance of Mozart’s Concerto No 22 in E flat.” –Erica Jeal, The Guardian.com

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