Of course, the repertoire is so vast that it is simply not possible to programme and perform all the works within the category of “piano concerto”, yet some lesser-known and forgotten concertos definitely merit inclusion. I asked a group of concert pianists to nominate their choices in the lesser-known category and the resulting list is surprisingly long and varied, of which the following is just a small selection.
Ferruccio Busoni’s Piano Concerto is a substantial work which lasts around an hour. It calls for large forces – a choir as well as a big orchestra – which may be why it is rarely performed.
Ferruccio Busoni: Piano Concerto, Op. 39 (Roberto Cappello, piano; Luca Marenzio Choir; Rome Symphony Orchestra; Francesco La Vecchia, cond.)
Hans Gál’s Concerto for Piano & Orchestra was recently recorded by British pianist Sarah Beth Briggs with conductor Kenneth Woods. This large-scale concerto has everything you could wish for – dramatic interplay between soloist and orchestra, virtuosity and sweeping romantic phrases. And if you like Brahms, you’ll enjoy this.
Benjamin Britten’s Piano Concerto in D. Despite Britten’s prowess at the piano, he wrote surprisingly little for the instrument. His Piano Concerto has considerable emotional heft combined with bravura passages for the soloist.
Benjamin Britten: Piano Concerto, Op. 13 (Sviatoslav Richter, piano; English Chamber Orchestra; Benjamin Britten, cond.)
Ernest Chausson’s Concerto for piano, violin and string quartet is warm and melodic, and uses chromatic harmonies and a passionate lyrical style typical of late nineteenth century French music. It is a very beautiful and sincere work.
Ernest Chausson: Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet in D Major, Op. 21 (Vladimir Spivakov, violin; Hélène Mercier, piano; Arkadi Fouter, violin; Alexei Lundine, violin; Igor Souliga, viola; Mikhail Milman, cello)
Erich Wolfgang Korngold – Piano Concerto for the left hand. Written for Paul Wittgenstein (who lost his right arm in the First World War and for whom Ravel wrote his left hand concerto), this single-movement concerto is full of harmonic imagination and contrasting moods.
Other rarely-heard piano concertos worth investigating:
Moritz Moszkowski: Piano Concerto in E major (Joseph Moog, piano; German Radio Saarbrücken-Kaiserslautern Philharmonic Orchestra; Nicholas Milton, cond.)
Charles Villiers Stanford: Piano Concerto in C minor (Finghin Collins, piano; RTÉ Concert Orchestra; Kenneth Montgomery, cond.)
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Piano Concerto in C major (Ashley Wass, piano; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; James Judd, cond.)
Nicolai Medtner: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor (Konstantin Scherbakov, piano; Moscow Symphony Orchestra; Igor Golovschin, cond.)
Ernő Dohnányi: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor (Howard Shelley, piano; BBC Philharmonic Orchestra; Matthias Bamert, cond.)
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov: Piano Concerto in F minor (Severin von Eckardstein, piano; Belgium National Orchestra; Walter Weller, cond.)
Antonín Dvořák: Piano Concerto in G minor (Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Nikolaus Harnoncourt, cond.)
Adolf von Henselt: Piano Concerto in F minor (Michael Ponti, piano; Philharmonia Hungarica; Othmar Mága, cond.)
Henry Litolff: Concerto Symphonique No. 4 (Cristina Ortiz, piano; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Moshe Atzmon, cond.)