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Franz Xaver Scharwenka

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The work highlighted in this post is the rarely performed Fourth Piano Concerto of German composer, Franz Xaver Scharwenka (1850-1924), which received its premier in 1908. Both Xaver and his older brother, Philipp, were fairly well-regarded during their day both as composers and as teachers. However, the conservative nature of their compositions, which placed them squarely in the 19th Century Romantic tradition, was at odds with the more adventuresome compositional styles of the 20th Century. As a result, the music of both Scharwenka brothers -- beautifully written as it was -- tended to be overlooked and remained "out of fashion" for many years. A righting of that sad situation began in the 1990s when recordings of a number of Schwarwenka works received a great deal of critical acclaim. One of these is the recording featured here with Stephen Hough at the keyboard.

As an introduction to this work, give a listen to the beautiful Third Movement:

Franz Xaver Scharwenka: Piano Concerto No. 4 in F Minor (Op. 82) -- Third Movement

And here is a link to the complete Playlist. If you are new to Franz Xaver Scharwenka, I do hope you enjoy this work.

Franz Xaver Scharwenka: Piano Concerto No. 4 in F Minor (Op. 82)

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Decades ago Earl Wild recorded an LP of Scharwenka's very lovely Piano Concerto No. 1.

The great Raymond Lewenthal included the final movement (only) of the Concerto No. 2, on an LP of Anton Rubinsteins's Concerto No. 4.

I think the Earl Wild recording is still available. Unfortunately, for some reason Raymond Lewenthal's recordings are not. He was certainly a great and imposing figure; I still treasure his recordings of Liszt's Ballade No. 2, Alkan's "Quasi-Faust" and other "Romantic Revival" works. At one point, the Objectivist-oriented student newspaper "Ergo" at MIT did an interview with him.

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