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Tippett: Piano Concerto, Etc / Osborne, Brabbins, Et Al


Release Date: 12/11/2007 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67461   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Michael Tippett
Performer:  Steven Osborne
Conductor:  Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 21 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Concerto or sonata, Osborne equals the best in this Tippett triumph.

The young Tippett – magpie and maverick – sought maximum intensity of feeling while shunning what he felt to be the sentimental fervour of Elgar, Bax and Walton. Equally abhorrent were the pastoral pieties of Vaughan Williams. Tippett took his stand with Blake and Yeats rather than Bunyan, and a Blake whose “bow of burning gold” required something altogether less complacent than Parry’s well upholstered jingoism.

The results are plain to hear in Tippett’s earliest works for piano, the First Sonata and the Handel Fantasia. The slow movement of the sonata may flirt briefly with Hindemith-style counterpoint but the predominant spirit is
Read more fiery and spontaneous, with a reinvigorated romanticism embracing those aspects of popular music which Tippett believed to have “classical” potential.

The road ahead was bumpy and he occasionally lost his way, as in the very long slow movement of the Third Sonata, aspiring to Beethovenian depth but bogged down in overly dense textures. There are also several repetitions too many in the Fourth Sonata, though the final movement’s gently poetic sense of resignation more than compensates.

Most powerful of all is the mighty Concerto, starkly and confidently poised between Tippett’s still richly potent earlier style and the brave new possibilities explored in its visionary central movement. This recording blends the piano in with the orchestra, acknowledging the work’s symphonic attributes, and there is a certain recessed quality to the sound of the piece throughout. Nevertheless, the eloquence and fantasy of what is undoubtedly one of the major works of the 1950s is superbly projected in a performance which need fear no comparison with the best earlier recordings, by John Ogdon (EMI, 12/91R) and Howard Shelley (Chandos, 4/95). As for the sonatas, Steven Osborne is at least the equal of Paul Crossley (CRD, 6/92) in interpretative empathy, and has the advantage of superlative modern recording. There’s a further advantage: perceptive and lucid booklet-notes by Ian Kemp, Tippett’s friend and biographer, and one of Osborne’s mentors. The set is dedicated to him.

-- Arnold Whittall, Gramophone [12/2007]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Fantasia on a Theme of Handel by Michael Tippett
Performer:  Steven Osborne (Piano)
Conductor:  Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939-1941; England 
2.
Concerto for Piano by Michael Tippett
Performer:  Steven Osborne (Piano)
Conductor:  Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953-1955; England 
3.
Sonata for Piano no 1 by Michael Tippett
Performer:  Steven Osborne (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935/1942; England 
4.
Sonata for Piano no 2 by Michael Tippett
Performer:  Steven Osborne (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1962; England 
5.
Sonata for Piano no 3 by Michael Tippett
Performer:  Steven Osborne (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972-1973; England 
6.
Sonata for Piano no 4 by Michael Tippett
Performer:  Steven Osborne (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984; England 

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