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Bowen: Piano Concerto 3, 4. The Romantic Concerto - 46


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Bowen: Piano Concerto 3, 4. The Romantic Concerto - 46 + Bowen: Symphonies Nos 1 & 2
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Product details

  • Performer: Martyn Brabbins, Danny Driver
  • Orchestra: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
  • Composer: York Bowen
  • Audio CD (27 Oct 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B001F4YGXM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 248,115 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Piano Concerto No 3 in G minor (Fantasia) Op 23 (1907) [17'47]
2. Piano Concerto No 4 in A minor Op 88 (1929) [43'02]

Product Description

CD Description

Hyperion's virtually single-handed rehabilitation of the music of York Bowen (known in his time as 'The English Rachmaninov'), continues apace with this recording of the third and fourth piano concertos. Piano Concerto No 3 is a vigorous one-movement work with three well-defined sections of varying tempos in Fantasia style. Bowen's sparkling performances of it drew plaudits from contemporary critics, who hailed it as his best composition thus far. The Piano Concerto No 4 (said by Sorabji to be the greatest work for piano and orchestra ever written by an Englishman) is a large-scale Romantic, virtuoso work, impressionistic solo passages alternating freely with Straussian orchestral textures throughout. It was written for a BBC broadcast, and for the composer himself to perform; Bowen considered the work his best composition for the piano and an important addition to the concerto literature. It has not been given a studio recording until now. The young British pianist Danny Driver, a Bowen specialist, gives a virtuoso performance with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins.

Review

'Driver boasts an impressive technique and a clear musical intelligence' --(The Observer)

'Danny Driver is a thoughtful and musical player and the possessor of a formidable technique... [his] control of dynamic and phrasing were exceptional' --(Musical Opinion)

'Driver has all the makings of becoming a notable musician - one of integrity and intelligence, commodities all too rare ... his naturalness, thinking, and understatement reminded, respectively, of Lupu, Brendel and Curzon' --(The Classical Source)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By M. J. A. Brough on 19 Mar 2009
Format: Audio CD
There was a time when the only Bowen one could find on disc was his own mono-recorded selection for Lyrita: playing that was both elegant and honest. Now we have an expanding discography including concertante and orchestral music; piano, organ and chamber works, of which this concerto disc is a recent offering.

The high spirits of the third concerto are thrown out with perhaps greater panache than in the comparatively more measured reading by Michael Dussek for Dutton (try the moment in the Driver's finale where the rather oriental figure comes in and he pushes the tempo somewhat). Everything sparkles about Driver's playing and he is given a satisfyingly big Steinway D with great dynamic range and excellent support.

Bowen's language is recognizably his own, for his harmony is tinted with personal preferences which, although close to Ireland, Bax or the Russians, garnishes his pianism well. He was certainly the the nearest to an English Rachmaninoff as anyone actually got; as people keep stating in the sleeve notes and reviews to the recent recordings and there is no need to apologize for that label so long as everyone eventually desists. Others tried to be this phenomenon (Roger Sacheverell Coke or Gaze Cooper, for example - who they? I hear you ask); but Bowen had the pianism to serve his composition solidly, so the four piano concertos (all disgracefully still unpublished/unavailable as sheet music at the present time) do genuinely thrill and satisfy.

So here is the great contrast: a short sectional concerto with thrills and spills and a much later and indeed astonishing companion on the disc which is as long as any of the acknowledged "biggies" like the Brahms concertos or Tchaikovsky's Second.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. J. Bonsor VINE VOICE on 27 Dec 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Hyperion have managed to `gazump' the ongoing Dutton series of York Bowen's music by releasing the world premiere recording of his Fourth piano concerto. This is coupled with the Third piano concerto (Fantasia), so may mean some duplication for those who already have the Dutton series: however, with such a worthwhile release as this, it won't be any great hardship to have a second performance of that concerto on disc.

Bowen himself regarded the fourth as his best work for piano and orchestra, and on the evidence of this performance we may take his own estimation at face value. The current revival of Bowen's music shows itself to be far more than merely a worthwhile exercise. Every new release shows that he was a musician of considerable interest and a composer of depth and stature.

This is a meaty and muscular concerto which has a compelling personality and a satisfying structure. It is a spacious work, but the melodic content more than justifies the 42 minute span of this piece. Though there is plenty of bravura writing for the soloist, none of it is overblown and Danny Driver- a former ROSL competition winner- plays with style and conviction.

The more concise Third Concerto similarly packs a pleasing punch.

The playing of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins again confirms what a winning combination this team really is.

Highly Recommended
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By T. Holmes on 22 Nov 2008
Format: Audio CD
This is disc full of wonderful music. Anyone who likes Bax, Bliss and Ireland shouldn't hesitate. The Fourth concerto is not unlike John Ireland's Piano Concerto, full of warmly romantic and wistful tunes. A wonderful discovery.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Crowe on 16 July 2013
Format: Audio CD
Thirty years separate the two pieces here -- the youthful third concerto, subtitled "Fantasia" is a one-movement piece clocking in at under 18 minutes, and the somber and ambitious fourth, in three movements, all roughly the same length, and totalling around 43 minutes. The longer piece is the one I'm interested in here. It was completed around 1937, but it inhabits an older sound-world, something closer to Rachmaninov than to Shostakovich, say. Two things are remarkable about it to me; expressively, it doesn't rely on vivid contrasts. The orchestral palette is pretty dark throughout, but what Bowen achieves is a sense of moving from something somber to something more affirmative by slow degrees, and without boring us in the process. He does this by deft manipulation of the orchestral texture, always varied and beautiful despite its dark ambience -- just listen to the cor anglais and viola opening of the second movement -- and very well caught here by Hyperion's engineers, in unobtrusively fine sound. The shifts in feeling within the movements are masterfully achieved, and here the leisurely pacing works to make the transitions both credible and natural. There's a lot for the pianist to do -- such lighter textures as there are in the piece are the soloist's business, and Danny Driver handles them beautifully -- the impressionistic falling water effects are unostentatiously played but never fail to make their effect, while at other times the soloist contributes to the darker colors of the piece. Never is virtuosity offered for its own sake, even in the difficult cadenza-like passages. Each movement sees a lightening of mood, and the ending recapitulates the opening, but with a subtly different affect. The composer Khaikosru Sorabji, Bowen's contemporary, and English despite the name, thought Bowen's Fourth the greatest piece for piano and orchestra composed by an Englishman. That's a bit more than faint praise, and he could be right.
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