Schumann Concerto

Review by Karl Hornsey for Yorkshire Magazine of Schumann Piano Concerto with Hull Philharmonic and James Hendry:

The evening’s programme opened with the overture to Weber’s opera Der Freischutz, or The Marksman, which allowed the clarinet and horns in particular to come to the fore. The evocative horns, four of them to be precise, denote the life of the hunter in the forests of Germany, with the clarinets taking over to bring to bear some of the more mystical elements of Weber’s often overlooked work.

This relatively short, but beautifully played piece, was quickly followed by the arrival of pianist Richard Uttley (pictured above) to the stage to perform Schumann’s Piano Concerto. Despite the German composer’s fine body of work, he clearly had something of a love-hate relationship with the piano concerto in general, as this was the only one that he managed to complete. For some reason he seemed to have trouble finishing what he started when it came to such matters, until his wife and pianist Clara urged him to turn what was initially a one-movement piece into a full concerto. Thankfully he acquiesced and produced a wonderful piece of music that has prospered down the years, and was safe in the hands of such a fine pianist as Uttley.

Uttley, thoroughly immersed in the piece, managed to impressively walk a fine line with his performance, allowing the piano to dominate where necessary, yet not drown out the rest of the orchestra, working alongside it rather than autonomously. This bold yet sensitive interpretation worked perfectly and was a real treat to enjoy.