- 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
- Other Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 175,060 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Bowen: Piano Concerto 3, 4. The Romantic Concerto - 46
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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.
'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)
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Be that as it may, I cannot find myself more than lukewarmly interested in this Bowen issue. The 3rd Concerto is more tautly constructed than the 4th and I find the latter particularly full of all the right gestures and some interesting orchestration. But then I keep on waiting for it to start. I don't ordinarily like publishing negative reviews and am only doing so here in order to remark that I was disappointed by what I heard when compared to the almost unanimous chorus of praise in all the reviews I had read. I suggest that it would really be a good idea to try and hear some of this disc before buying it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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... Read morePublished on 16 July 2013 by Stanley Crowe
This disc, recorded in 2007, forms part of the extensive survey of 'Romantic Piano Concertos' on Hyperion and is a very strong performance of these two concertos. Read morePublished on 6 Dec. 2012 by I. Giles