Potter: Piano Concertos – No 2 in D minor; No 4 in E major; Variazioni di bravura on a theme by Rossini

Reviewed on Fri 15 Sep, 2017

Of the two piano concertos recorded here, it's the D minor from 1832 that proves the more durably rewarding; indeed, the opening movement genuinely surprises with its quirky thematic and harmonic departures from convention.

Prior to his appointment in 1832 as principal of the Royal Academy of Music, London-born Cipriani Potter (1792-1871) had already amassed a sizeable list of compositions (his surviving works include nine symphonies, three piano concertos, three Shakespeare overtures and various chamber offering). He was also a popular and respected piano virtuoso, regularly performing at least nine of the Mozart concertos, as well as giving the English premieres of Beethoven's Third and Fourth. Of the two piano concertos recorded here, it's the D minor from 1832 that proves the more durably rewarding; indeed, the opening movement genuinely surprises with its quirky thematic and harmonic departures from convention. By comparison, the E major concerto from 1835 wears a rather less distinctive demeanour, though there's still much to enjoy in the poise and glitter of Potter's piano writing, not to mention some piquant touches of scoring for woodwind and the violin and cello principals. The fill-up is well worth having, too: a dashing set of variations on a theme from Rossini's 1821 opera Mathilde di Shabran that is consistently engaging, impressively resourceful and full of flair. Performances and recordings are everything one could wish, and it all adds up to another winner within Hyperion's ever-enterprising Romantic Piano Concerto series.
–Andrew Achenbach