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The Romantic Piano Concerto Vol 46 - Bowen / Driver, Brabbins, BBC Scottish SO

Album Summary

>Bowen, York : Concerto for Piano no 3 in G minor, Op. 23 "Fantasia"
>Bowen, York : Concerto for Piano no 4 in A minor, Op. 88
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

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. Bowen's third is a vigorous one-movement work with three well-defined sections of varying tempos in fantasia style. The fourth concerto (said by Sorabji to be the greatest work for piano and orchestra ever written by an Englishman) is a large-scale, romantic, virtuoso work featuring impressionistic solo passages alternating freely with Straussian orchestral textures. 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.

'Soloist Danny Driver emerges as the virtuoso hero of the hour' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The Third Concerto, with its surging climaxes and soaring themes, offers 17 minutes of instant gratification ... [Fourth Concerto] The writing veers between magical impressionism and passionate bravura outbursts couched in Straussian orchestral textures. Thrilling stuff. Driver, again, is firmly in the spotlight. This is his first recording for Hyperion. I look forward to many more' (Gramophone)

'Danny Driver's pianism is fully and eagerly up to Bowen's considerable demands' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This disc is the latest and arguably the most impressive so far in the continuing resuscitation of the music of London-born composer-pianist York Bowen (1884-1961). These two concertos sound more Continental than English, with the single-movement Third (1908) betraying the influence of Saint-Saëns and the more substantial Fourth (1937) having a Debussy-meets-Strauss late-Romantic palette. Both, though, have enough scintillating character of their own to reward repeated listening, while Danny Driver's performances are masterly, stylish and full of dazzling pianism' (Daily Telegraph)

'Absolutely stunning... What a way to be introduced to the music of York Bowen!' (American Record Guide, USA)

'[Danny Driver's] got the style for Bowen's music, a mix of introspective lyricism and energetic, theatrical extroversion with plenty of color... the BBC Scottish SO plays with its usual unruffled beauty' (Fanfare, USA)



Reviews

Like Rachmaninoff?
I had high hopes for this, especially when I read that Sorabji considered Bowen's fourth concerto to be the best by an Englishman. (I don't like Sorabji's music, but I share his tastes). If Sorabji is right, this disc may be living proof there are no great English piano concertos. After getting over my disappointment, I found a lot to enjoy in this somewhat derivative work. Bowen had a gift for melody, but it is not on display here. This concerto has no memorable tunes, but it does cast a brooding, melancholy spell like Rach 2. The introduction and coda owe much to Rach 2, but it is done so well that you probably won't care. The early third concerto is pure Saint-Saens fluff, much like Bowen's first two concertos. Enjoyable and forgettable. Performance sounds expert. Orchestra/piano balance is honest. The recording is kind of distant; with a volume boost, all is well. I really liked this disc, and I think anyone who likes Rachmaninoff, Medtner, or Bortkiewicz will like Bowen's Fourth.
Submitted on 03/10/09 by Steve W. 
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Works Details

>Bowen, York : Concerto for Piano no 3 in G minor, Op. 23 "Fantasia"
  • Performer: Danny Driver (Piano)
  • Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
  • Ensemble: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: City Halls, Glasgow, Scotland (08/30/2007-08/31/2007)
  • Running Time: 17 min. 54 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1907

>Bowen, York : Concerto for Piano no 4 in A minor, Op. 88
  • Performer: Danny Driver (Piano)
  • Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
  • Ensemble: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: City Halls, Glasgow, Scotland (08/30/2007-08/31/2007)
  • Running Time: 42 min. 51 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1929