Ravel’s G-major Piano Concerto receives a bright and breezy account of the outer movements, some details highlighted, others less favourably captured (microphoning placement rather than Jonathan Nott preferring high-register sounds?) with Francesco Piemontesi nicely high-spirited, laconic and very expressive with trills, especially 6:17-6:45 in the first movement; and the Finale is circus-like, somewhat skittish, and good to hear the jazzy syncopations and burbling woodwinds so clearly, 2:03-2:22, and also the skirmishing (here antiphonal) violins, 2:48-3:01. I just wish that some orchestral aspects, however vivid, were a little less blatant, making the slow movement balm to the ear, Piemontesi gently extemporising, with some fine woodwind solos in attendance.
Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto (1942, ten years after the Ravel) is a concise and masterly score, engaging from the off (appealing to such as Ax, Brendel and Uchida, each has a recording) with memorable material and a forward-moving development across its four continuous if distinct sections, music of songfulness, rapid drama, expressionist spaciousness/emotional climax, and a giocoso (as marked) final part – dry humour – that leads to a satisfying resolution, if only it had been a little broader. Piemontesi believes in the piece and has the technical and intellectual resources to do it full justice, and Nott has been successfully disentangling such writing for years.
They also combine meaningfully in Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques (completed a few days into 1956), music that normally passes me by, and irritates, but here it’s something of a revelation, Piemontesi a reveller of birdsong and Nott leads an engrossing realisation of the orchestral commentary (no strings attached), particularly the taken-daringly-rapid multi-layered passage 5:12-9:10 (prior to another gong crescendo enveloping the ears), which is intoxicating and a tribute to the Suisse Romande wind and percussion virtuosos. Pentatone PTC 5186 949 [SACD].