When it comes to piano concertos, Franz Reizenstein is best remembered for his “Concerto Populaire,” his contribution to the Hoffnung Festivals. The 1961 Piano Concerto No. 2 is more serious, but in both, I hear a desire to connect with the audience.
Reizenstein premiered the work at the keyboard. There’s plenty for the pianist to do, and for the listener to hear. Oliver Triendl blasts through the difficult passages with ease, and often with a bit of flair. His performance does much to sell the concerto.
There were some passages — especially the arpeggios early in the first movement — that seemed a little weak. But as the concerto progressed, Reizenstein’s music became more complex and substantial. Triendl’s performance convinced me to keep listening — and I’m glad I did. The final movement was worth the wait.
Also included is Reizenstein’s Serenade in F major. Originally written for nine wind instruments, Reizenstein reworked the Serenade for small orchestra. A contemporary critic wrote that the work was “within [its] limits, admirably satisfying, though perhaps more to play than to listen to.”
As a listener, I found the Serenade quite satisfying. The clarity of the music and the cleanly delineated motifs reminded me of Paul Hindemith. And the material is worked out with the same intellectual rigor. But it still succeeds as music, rather than an intellectual exercise. Reizenstein’s well-crafted melodies evoke emotional responses from the listener (or at least this listener).
The “Cyrano de Bergerac” concert overture harks back to the tone poems of Richard Strauss. If Strauss was crossed with Sergei Prokofiev, that is. Reizenstein’s lush orchestration seems to have a slight acidity to it. I enjoyed the work, but it seemed to me that Reizenstien in 1954 couldn’t quite conjure up the musical world of the 1890s. Far too much had happened to music, and to Reizenstein in the interim.
Franz Reizenstein: Piano Concerto No. 2
Serenade in F major; Overture “Cyrano de Bergerac”
Oliver Triendl, piano
Nürnberger Symphoniker; Yaron Traub, conductor