As with many another in Hyperion’s long-running series of “Romantic Piano Concertos,” this is the first time the two (1876 and 1905) by French composer Charles-Marie Widor have been recorded. And what a joy to hear vital, intelligent, richly scored piano concertos not by Rachmaninoff or Tchaikovsky! Widor’s First takes a while to get off the ground— the opening is almost a compendium of ways to begin a piano concerto, and the opening Allegro is more theme and gesture than melody and development. A charming Andante follows, then a scherzo-like finale that sounds as Russian as it does Gallic. The Fantaisie (1889) is rich in ideas and most compelling in architecture. The first several minutes are in a moderate tempo and lead to a dramatic middle section; the climax presents the main theme at a fortissimo as a reward for its labors. Concerto No. 2 is more chromatic, but also more settled in demeanor; the luxurious Adagio has a ravishing violin solo. This is one of the best-sounding Hyperion CDs I’ve heard overall (the winds are sometimes a little buried, hardly a deal-breaker), and Markus Becker is perfect—he’s got chops, tasteful emotion, and great clarity. The orchestra is excellent throughout.