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Britten: Piano Concerto Op 13, Diversions Op 21, Young Apollos Op 16 / Osborne, Volkov, BBC Scottish SO

Album Summary

>Britten, Benjamin : Concerto for Piano in D major, Op. 13
>Britten, Benjamin : Work(s)
>Britten, Benjamin : Young Apollo, for piano, string quartet & strings, Op. 16 (withdrawn by composer)
>Britten, Benjamin : Diversions, for piano, left hand & orchestra, Op. 21
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

The three compositions that comprise Britten's music for solo piano and orchestra constitute a unique, yet still little explored, part of his output. Here they are brought together in a stunning disc that pays tribute to the great artistry of all involved. Steven Osborne's performance of Britten's 'Piano Concerto' with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Ilan Volkov at the 2007 BBC Proms redefined this often undervalued work in the ears of his listeners, imbuing it with hitherto unsuspected emotional and musical weight. The same musicians have put down a benchmark recording here and, as a bonus, also recorded the original third movement, which Britten discarded in his 1945 revision.

'Steven Osborne yields nothing to the great Sviatoslav Richter in the punchiness and fine-tuned filigree of his playing. No skating over the surface here, with Ilan Volkov and the BBC SSO adept at teasing out the music's symphonic subtext, as well as its piquant orchestral effects' (Gramophone)

'Osborne exults in Britten's dazzlingly pianistic writing, and we get to hear the original 1938 version of the concerto's third movement, a dazzlingly beautiful Recitative and Aria ... A thrilling disc (Sunday Times)

'Osborne takes the opening Toccata of the concerto at quite a lick, but his quick-witted pianism is up to the task, and it is matched throughout by some incisive and perceptive playing from Ilan Volkov's BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. All in all, it is a match for the composer-conducted classic recording by Sviatoslav Richter' (Daily Telegraph)

'Osborne's account of Britten's 1938 Piano Concerto is full of fire and wit. He dazzles in the long, unrelentingly fast first movement ... He plays the sour second movement with breezy nonchalance, the third with a heavy improvisatory tread and the Prokofiev-like March with mock-heroic fanfares and percussive virtuosity' (The Times)

'Steven Osborne and Ilan Volkov launch into the Piano Concerto's opening 'Toccata' at a headlong pace ... For all the remarkable velocity, the playing has weight and incisiveness too, and Osborne's way with the two central movements is equally sure ... [Diversions] This beautifully devised single-movement set of variations presents Britten's inventiveness at its most elegant, while also finding serious depth in its penultimate Adagio. Osborne and the orchestra do this neglected jewel excellent justice. And there's vivid recorded sound to match' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Steven Osborne combines fireworks with with and subtlety, and Ilan Volkov relishes Britten's unerring ear for orchestral sonorities. Meanwhile, the BBC SSO players sound as if they're having a whale of a time' (Gramophone)

'Scottish pianist Steven Osborne is mercurial but never flashy, and eloquent in the moments of repose. The Diversons ... are played with equal brilliance' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Osborne's technique puts him ahead of the game: this is no average British pianist' (Fanfare, USA)

'The incomparable Steven Osborne, with the BBC SSO and Ilan Volkov in electrifying form ... The music has a bubbling effervescence ... and is delivered by Osborne with his characteristic sense of discipline (pristine playing) and buccaneering spirit. There is real depth, too, in the piece, not least in the dark nobility of the finale theme' (Glasgow Herald)

'Britten's three works for solo piano are relatively neglected and Steven Osborne's brilliant performances, backed by the conductor Ilan Volkov, make one wonder why' (Sunday Telegraph)

'It is hard to imagine more persuasive advocates for the music. Osborne is dazzling in the showier passages (of which there are many) in all three works, and all challenges are met head-on in exemplary performances' (Scotland on Sunday)

'L'interprète rend parfaite justice à cetter page étrange dans son alliage de martial entrain et d'extatique ferveur ... Ce dernier était, on le sait, autrichien et les profondes affinités de Britten avec Mahler, Berg et leurs émules trouvent ici le terrain idéal pour s'exprimer. Comme Ravel, Britten soumet la main gauche de l'interprète à d'effrayantes épreuves brillamment déjouées par Steven Osborne' (Classica Repertoire)

'From one recording to the next, Osborne, the Scottish pianist, is a marvel. Here he gleams and geysers through a performance of Benjamin Britten's concerto, with expert help from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conductor Ilan Volkov. Pure excellence' San Jose Mercury News, USA)



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Works Details

>Britten, Benjamin : Concerto for Piano in D major, Op. 13
  • Performer: Steven Osborne (Piano)
  • Conductor: Ilan Volkov
  • Ensemble: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, Scotland (09/21/2007-09/23/2007)
  • Running Time: 32 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1938

>Britten, Benjamin : Work(s) :: Original version of the third movement of the Piano Concerto (Recitative and Aria. Lento
  • Performer: Steven Osborne (Piano)
  • Conductor: Ilan Volkov
  • Ensemble: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, Scotland (09/21/2007-09/23/2007)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Britten, Benjamin : Young Apollo, for piano, string quartet & strings, Op. 16 (withdrawn by composer)
  • Performer: Steven Osborne (Piano)
  • Conductor: Ilan Volkov
  • Ensemble: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, Scotland (09/21/2007-09/23/2007)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1939

>Britten, Benjamin : Diversions, for piano, left hand & orchestra, Op. 21
  • Performer: Steven Osborne (Piano)
  • Conductor: Ilan Volkov
  • Ensemble: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, Scotland (09/21/2007-09/23/2007)
  • Running Time: 18 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1940