Steibelt: Piano Concertos – No 3 in E major, Op 33 (L'orage); No 5 in E flat major, Op 64 (À la chasse); No 7 in E minor (Grand concerto militaire)

Reviewed on Tue 15 Mar, 2016

This recording – the only one currently available to feature Steibelt’s concertos – reveals an imaginative style that relies on virtuoso solo playing and effect-laden orchestration which delighted contemporary audiences.

Beethoven trounced Daniel Steibelt (1765-1825) in a pianistic duel that delighted frequenters of a Viennese salon in 1800, but his compositions conquered London, Paris and St Petersburg. This recording – the only one currently available to feature Steibelt’s concertos – reveals an imaginative style that relies on virtuoso solo playing and effect-laden orchestration which delighted contemporary audiences. The finale of the Third Concerto (1799) imitates a storm, the Fifth (1802) concludes with hunting horn calls after meandering an individual course between the worlds of Mozart and early Beethoven, whilst the grandiose two movement ‘military’ Seventh (c 1816 and written in praise of Napoleon) is march-laden in the extreme. Naturally, the dazzling faster movements stand out for their bravura elements, and one might forgive that slow movements were not exactly Steibelt’s strong suit. Howard Shelley proves indefatigable as soloist and conductor; the Ulster Orchestra meet Steibelt’s demands admirably. Excellent sound and interesting booklet notes strengthen the appeal of this all-but-forgotten music within Hyperion’s Classical Piano Concerto series.
–Evan Dickerson