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A Barnstorming Bowen Release
on 27 December 2008
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.