Gál: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op 57; Mozart: Piano Concerto No 22 in E flat major, K 482

Reviewed on Tue 31 May, 2016

Sarah Beth Briggs revels in the tasteful refinement, brilliance and grace of Gál's immaculately judged solo writing, and she enjoys marvellously understanding support from Kenneth Woods and the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

I've sung the praises of Hans Gál's music previously on Classical Ear (see my reviews – from 9 July 2013 and 12 June 2014 – of his first two symphonies), and here's yet another rare gem to savour. Composed in 1948 and premiered the following year in Bournemouth under the baton of Rudolf Schwarz, the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op 57, captivates from start to finish, its lucidly argued, agile and disarmingly witty outer movements framing a raptly songful Adagio centrepiece of conspicuous tenderness and beauty. Exemplary advocacy it receives, too, on this, its long-overdue first commercial recording: Sarah Beth Briggs revels in the tasteful refinement, brilliance and grace of Gál's immaculately judged solo writing, and she enjoys marvellously understanding support from Kenneth Woods and the Royal Northern Sinfonia. The coupling is a comparably stylish and insightful traversal of Mozart's great E flat major Piano Concerto from 1785 – a happy choice, not least on account of Briggs's felicitous incorporation of cadenzas that her distinguished teacher Denis Matthews composed in 1953 for Dame Myra Hess. Boasting top-notch engineering, this represents another unmissable addition to the enterprising Gál/Avie canon.
–Andrew Achenbach