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Howells: Piano Concertos no 1 & 2, etc / Shelley, et al

Album Summary

>Howells, Herbert : Concerto for Piano no 1 in C minor, Op. 4
>Howells, Herbert : Concerto for Piano no 2 in C major, Op. 39
>Howells, Herbert : Penguinski, ballet
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"His [Howells's] musical style touches on Bax, Ravel, even Rachmaninoff, is often modal...often dips into atonality. The melodies are long and meandering, English in flavor, often wistful...The First Concerto is typical of Howells in its elegiac tone, while the Second is extroverted. 'Penguinski'...is a brief, humorous score for a ballet...These are absolutely superb performances and make it evident that the performers have much empathy and enthusiasm for this...music." -Mulbury, ARG

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
An astonishing revelation, especially to anyone who still thinks of Herbert Howells as a nostalgic English rhapsodist, more at home in an organ loft than a concert hall. The First Piano Concerto is very early (1914 - Howells was 22) and hasn't been performed for many years because its last few bars are missing (John Rutter has provided them).

It reveals the young Howells as more Russian than English - the dazzlingly flamboyant keyboard writing is strongly reminiscent of Rachmaninov - and with hardly a trace of English reserve as he brandishes theme after theme, intensifying many of them to heights of impassioned eloquence.

One or two lyrical paragraphs suggest the 'real' Herbert Howells. But who, the Second Piano Concerto demands, was he? This work was abused at its premiere (one critic shouted 'Thank God that's over!') and Howells, deeply wounded, withdrew it immediately. Indeed, although it's a lot closer to 'real' Howells in its rhapsodic lyricism, there's another quality which is angular, sometimes dissonant, tough and determined.

Surely we shall get closer to the real Howells, lifelong admirer of the arch-conservative Stanford, in Penguinski, from its title an obvious satire on Stravinsky? But in fact the sidelong glances at him are admiring and affectionate, and the robust humour is Howells' own. There's more to him than we had imagined, and his stature is increased, not diminished, by the realisation that he was once an exuberant Romantic, that his ears were sharp and that he had a sense of humour. Enthusiastic, virtuoso, very slightly rough-cornered performances and a sumptuously rich recording.



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Works Details

>Howells, Herbert : Concerto for Piano no 1 in C minor, Op. 4
  • Performer: Howard Shelley (Piano)
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Ensemble: BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: 05/22/2000-05/23/2000
  • Running Time: 16 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1914

>Howells, Herbert : Concerto for Piano no 2 in C major, Op. 39
  • Performer: Howard Shelley (Piano)
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Ensemble: BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: 05/22/2000-05/23/2000
  • Running Time: 27 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1925

>Howells, Herbert : Penguinski, ballet
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Ensemble: BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: 05/22/2000-05/23/2000
  • Running Time: 4 min. 19 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1933